Get Damage Control Album [Click Here]Written by: Tom Rogers @imtomrogers
After listening to the album in full, Mat Zo’s “Damage Control” can be interpreted as a commentary and response to the current state of EDM. That’s all boring and there’s a hundred other blogs milking that topic, so we’re going to talk about the actual music.
The reason such an argument can even be made is that Mat Zo has gone out of his comfort zone and created a full album. It features interludes, genre-fusing tracks, and songs that are just songs; the work finishes with a 6 minute track called “Time Dilation” that is primarily guitar and a singer. No electronic kick drums, no “phat bass yo,” just emotion. In an age where you’d expect a popular artist to essentially release an album of bangers, Mat has done a great job of showing you can create a full spectrum of sound and feeling and still have some success in clubland.
Some people will get a little snobby at Mat Zo since he has been, until recently, a somewhat devoted Trance-artist. You know how that goes. However, a lot of these techy-style percussion rhythms and pad-like textures are reminiscent of his earlier techno-influenced tracks. So in the same way that this is a departure from his comfort zone, it’s also a recon-textualization of his roots with some new ideas.
“Only For You” with Rachel K. Collier is a disco-style track that focuses on the groove in a very Daft Punk way. Between this and “Easy” (with Porter Robinson), you can tell that flavor is something Zo is inspired by. Sparing nothing on detail, he adds a small topline synth just before the fadeout. There are a lot of great moments like that in the album where the average producer could have been happy with the intro or outro going to just drums for DJ sets. Again, this album is definitely more of a music album than a dance album.
“Caller ID” features some great introduction work with Duduks before a relaxed wubbing bass and vocal sample. It’s brought back in at about 2 minutes in to create a very different feel from what you may normally hear. A lot of this album is distinctively Matt in his choice of combining styles. They are not merely tracks for my set, to be remixed by other genre DJs, to be pushed out and forgotten. The whole album has a heart and a vibe that brings something new to the table. There are a fair amount of eastern flutes, disco or 80’s futuristic style bass grooves, and analogue-sounding pads. If you heard his Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 and were receptive to the eclectic nature of it, this album is essentially Mat Zo creating that style from scratch.
Although some of the tracks didn’t particularly wow me, and the album altogether was not what I usually listen to, I was impressed with the craftsmanship in it’s creation. Everything’s chosen well, the order of the songs are arranged to coincide nicely, and the detail is there. This is a piece of work that was thought of uniquely by the artist, and brought into the world with great care. Mat Zo’s “Damage Control” is probably one of the more elaborate pieces of electronic art that will come out in 2013. It is by all definitions a “real” album, with it’s own style and story. So throw it on, relax and have yourself a nice drink. Make sure you know about this one.