Mat Zo is an exciting, up-and-coming artist that any appreciator of electronic music must keep an eye out for. From an early age, Matan Zohar was exposed to music by his parents who are both successful musicians. His years of exposure and practice are reflected when listening to his debut album, Damage Control which his released singles from this album have already been taking the electro house community by storm. Each track feels like a very controlled mix of multiple electronic styles that culminates to a very interesting album. This is by no means a top-of-the-charts release, but in a more humble way, demonstrates that Mat Zo gets it and can blur the boundaries between styles to create his own vision. Every track feels like a uniquely crafted piece of fine electronica, which is exactly why he deserves the attention he has been receiving.
When listening to “Only For You” one can hear a lot of contemporary house elements such as a textured bass with long notes on the keys and vocals with reverb. Nothing about the instrumental choices is new but the way the elements are used is refreshing and mellow. Subtle melodies are introduced as the track progresses which keeps the listener excited throughout. There is a level of expertise that can be clearly heard when considering all the artistic decisions that were made to create this entrancing track.
A more interesting track to analyze is “Caller Id”. Indian instrumentals introduce the track with an almost trance feel, which then takes an interesting turn when it rolls out a trap style beat and a quivering bass line. The Southern U.S. style intertwines with Southern Asian melodies until it reaches to a very epic climax of a rapid fire notes. Even in the vocals you can hear the regional influences which is a bold move that serves to unite two entirely different cultures in one track.
There are also some short demos that will leave you questioning the purpose or statement being made by the track. “Like It Used To Be” uses fade effects in the introductory riff to make the sound feel distant and vintage before bring it to the front so you can experience it once more before it fades away permanently. The sound is very reminiscent to late 90’s hip-hop and R&B, which gives it that “old school” nostalgia. You can only speculate the purpose of this short demo, but it feels near and dear to the producers heart.
Another track that is making a statement about music is “Moderate Stimulation”. The vocals have been lifted from two separate recordings of speeches by Spiro Agnew and Thomas Dewey. The most important being the introductory segment of Agnew’s speech commenting on “our minds will no longer respond to moderate stimulation”. The track then progresses into a relaxing, retro-lounge sound with acoustic and soft percussion. This is no doubt to challenge the idea the future generations will not be able to appreciate sophistication in music.
At times the album pushes a sense that Mat Zo is trying to generate his own sophistication in his work. He does not throw everything at once at the listeners ears. If many elements are going to be placed into a single track, Mat Zo creates the appropriate atmosphere for each element. “Ez” has many distinct elements such that, it will take repeated listening just to be aware of all of them.
The track starts off setting a tone that comes close to sounding like house before an anticlimax leads the progress to something slower and tame. In this slow progression new elements like steel percussion’s and spacey pad melodies are introduced to be expanded on in a later segment of the song. After a few more loops of the chorus one more climax leads the song to a full electro break down. There is a lot of modest play with the LFO sequencer which is something you don’t often hear without the track turning into complete dubstep. The subtle elements like the steel percussion’s and spacey pad make a comeback as the track nears a close.
There are many instances of Mat Zo generating fresh sounds that defy categorization. And even when he is paralleling an existing genre, he manages to take his vision down an unfamiliar path. “Pyramid Scheme” featuring Chuck D. from Public Enemy, and “Lucid Dream” are two outstanding tracks that make themselves stand out from all the noise simply by the use of intricate melodies, variety of sound, and progression style. This ultimately defines the illusive style of the young producer and personally leaves me wanting more.