Matthewdavid: Outmind / International EP (Brainfeeder)
Being signed to Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder imprint is a vague indication of what to expect from leftfield sound-sculptor Matthewdavid. Né Matthew David McQueen, he shares Flying Lotus’s interest in dense layers of sound that borrow from multiple genres, most heavily hip hop and downtempo grooves. But to pigeonhole Outmind as one of the numerous downtempo records dropping any given week of the year is cheating; these tracks have much more going for them. If any comparison ought to be drawn, it’s to the hazy drones that sometimes bely the output of Odd Nosdam; “Prayers at Bedtime” is a wall of sound that doesn’t so much feature a beat as a swirling, chugging pulse. Lead single “International” features vocals by Dogbite and is simultaneously slippery and infectious. It’s led by a sort of vocal non-hook, yet manages to work its way into my head and stay there. McQueen shares Flying Lotus’s love of scattered sound, very dense and almost overpowered production and most of all his attention span, darting from idea to idea and track to track quite quickly. In many instances this works to the advantage of the whole, but sometimes I’d be just as content to hear a few of these tracks twice as long. “Group Tea,” Matthewdavid’s collaboration with Flying Lotus, clocks in at a minute and a half, but I’d probably enjoy it for a few minutes more most likely. As a result, despite being twelve tracks, Outmind goes by quite quickly, over in just beyond a half an hour. (It seems like he could have just as easily combined the other tracks on the EP to make a slightly longer album, but perhaps this was by design.) But this is a quite small complaint as the music is worth more than every brief minute it occupies. “Like You Mean It” hits hard, saturated with sound to the point that every nuance is fighting for prominence, while “Floor Music” disembodies Niki Randa’s voice into a Grouper-like spooky atmosphere. This constant push and pull between rhythm and noise is what makes Outmind such a great listen, especially on good headphones. Sounds push in from either side and then recede and swirl in any which direction at any given point. Ordinarily I’m not necessarily a fan of this sort of saturation, but McQueen maximizes it here and makes it work as a full aesthetic. The International EP groups the title cut with 3 non-album tracks, including the chaotic “All You’ll Never Know” and the woozy “Motion Trouble,” the latter of which reminds me of the feeling of trying to walk in a straight line when one just can’t quite. The EP is enjoyable, but the album is definitely the main attraction here. Really nice, weird, dense stuff!