Matenda – Natural Development (Global Phonehead)

Posted in Reviews 2007 by - August 16, 2007


Matenda - psychedelic progressive house

I bloody love this. This album has been like a close friend for the last month or so. I was back in Europe for a bit visiting family and friends, and I hardly took any music with me, but by Shiva was I glad I had this. I know I’m supposed to be talking about music, but bear with me a second: if you can imagine heading back to your old spaces and places, seeing old mates and family members, it’s a pretty emotional time. Add to this borrowing for your stay the finest car you’re ever driven, all the feelings and emotions and purrs are all so high up the scale – and they were all, without exception, experienced to the accompaniment of this wonderful album.

I always thought Matenda was a great producer on the one hand, and an underrated producer on the other hand. He is one of the few artists whose music I can always go back to, and find I know every single damn note (the other artists who spring to mind are Neil Young, Johnny Marr’s guitarwork with The Smiths, and most of The Stone Roses.)

From the opener Speculator, with its effortlessly gliding layers and orgasmic breakdown, you know you’re in for a bit of a treat. Plain Vanilla shamelessly resurrects warm Balearic vibes – think Chicane with up-to-date production, all the while sounding as though you’re driving along some beachside highway with an implausibly stunning bird sitting in the passenger seat.

The title track is an utter classic – it’s laconic, low-set stuff that coaxes melodies out of nowhere. Perspectives runs deeper, a subtle track that is the sort of thing that we used to say would hold a dancefloor’s attention nicely. Sounds Around is a competent stab at pumping vocal amylectro, and the out-and-out lysergic Loopus funk of Electronegative goes a hell of a long way.

Equilibrium and Invisible Garbage are more tribal takes; the latter works better than the busy and cluttered former, though neither are essential. Best bet is to skip on to the blissful jazzy house of Epsilon, or better still the gloriously lamenting closing track Orphean: sounding like everything wrong in the world being put simultaneously right, it’s a gorgeous piece of music your mum will love.

What makes Matenda so special, as I have said before, is the apparent ease with which he translates honest, raw emotion into music. Listening here, there’s the full range: wonder, love, amazement, happiness, expansion, and a touch of a reflective, almost folorn sadness. It really is that good. In an age where we’re bombarded with presets, big breakdowns, and festival-live performances with smelly-looking guitarists, it’s about time we heard something that’s just bloody honest with itself.

Thank you.

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