Watch Mateus Asato treat Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah to sublime slides and lush licks in new instrumental cover

Mateus Asato
(Image credit: Mateus Asato/YouTube)

The social media scene has been that bit darker since Mateus Asato announced his indefinite Instagram hiatus. However, fans of today’s premier neo-soul navigator now have reason to rejoice after he posted a quick-fire clip of Hallelujah – which he dusted with a healthy dose of Asato magic.

Such is the bite and dirt of his neck single-coil tone, Asato’s take on the Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley classic sounds at first like a sleepy Stevie Ray Vaughan nonchalantly noodling around the opening two chords.

In true Asato fashion, however, the right hand’s non-picking fingers are soon called into action, and help the electric guitar star in his quest to address the haunting melody while maintaining the track’s harmonic foundations.

The none-more-Asato approach lends itself to some mesmerizing displays of melodicism. Those lick-embellished fretboard slides that connect each lyrical phrase are pinpoint, and the inverted chord flourishes are also worth shouting about.

After all, if there’s anyone who knows the secret chord that David played to please the Lord, chances are it’s Mateus Asato.

The cover comes after Asato posted a new track – titled The Cure – to YouTube over the Christmas period, which came with a personal update regarding his time away from the social media scene.

And, as well as teasing, “I will see you soon, hopefully sooner than we expect”, Asato also revealed he’s currently “in a good place” and that he has been quietly working on new music in the background.

“Thank you so much for the love and welcoming words,” Asato said in the video’s comments. “After all this time being away, I decided to show a little bit of what I've been working [on] recently.

“I made this song two months ago and it became inevitable to share it with you,” he continued. “It is still very simple but was made with true feelings.

“I don't want to be the one who keeps saying, ‘I can't wait to show my new music,’ or, ‘New album coming 2022,’ but I just want to say that I've been in a good place, happy with most of [the] things I've learned this past year.

“Keeping it up with the essence of 'why I make music' could be hard and it faces brutal vulnerability, especially during these weird season we live [in] now. But I feel great after this time off, and I hope my music could transmit that at its purest. 

“Thank you so much once again for staying with me in this virtual platform. I will see you soon, hopefully sooner than we expect.”

Asato shut down his Instagram account last February, saying he “got lost inside the boxes of 15-60-second videos”, which created an atmosphere of “overwhelming” pressure that put him off playing the guitar.

He has since appeared in a number of projects, including Annalé's single Goodbye and Marty Friedman’s instrumental cover of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.