Retro was the by far most overworked musical term in all areas house and techno. And well, we have to admit it it: So is this release by our new player MATT JOHN and his debut for Cocoon Recordings. However, this time "retro" works a bit different. It's Sheffield, Warp, the early Hacienda- and LFO-days that are shining through here. No massive Kink-like-909-programming, no Chicago- and no New-York-house revival and finally not just another London- and Berlin-hipster-soundtrack. We are talking northern sound inspired techno here, dark but hedonistic, analogue synths and for those who remember: A Certain Ratio feeling all over the place! Of course this is what we hear here and what we feel and we have no idea if Matt John did all this on purpose but to be honest: We don't care! This is great, this is good, this is techno as we like it and most important: This is hard to find these days. So let the show begin, ladies & gentlemen here comes MATT JOHN!
The style and vibe of Matt Johns collection is defined right from the start: "Interview" is built around slim analogue drums and shouts out loud that you won't find loop-house and overpolished drum-sounds in here. It's about feelings and all the colours of sound that create this certain atmosphere. Relaxed organsounds, spoken words and echo-effects form a decent and warm entry in this album full of depth. A perfect door opener, so let's step further into Matt Johns world of sounds. "Angel Dust" will show many youngsters how effective a clean and banging 808 can be. The classic backwards-strings on top lead to that special dark but hedonistic vibe that is almost dying for some cool MC Tune rhyme! Matt John continues with his very own bleeps & plonks revival and with "Monogramm" it is almost undeniable that master John must have been a big fan of the "Sweet Exorcist" and all the other WARP legends. Well, maybe he's not, maybe he never even heard of them but again, we don't care as this is pure dope! No more cut-up vocals, no more Ableton-loop-tools, this all sounds handmade. Simply real as electronic music can be when not created by binary codes and arranged by numbers.
However it's not all about sounding real and retro here. With "The River" Matt John shows his jazzy side and introduces more warm organ sounds and heavy beats and even a guitar is joining the game. Not retro at all but not 2013 as well, a unique piece of music with no real reference. Berlin? Frankfurt? London? Nothing really fits and this means we are listening to a timeless and big piece of music. "The Ocean Inside" sounds far more contemporary and way more up to date then the rest of the album. A dry bassline, dub-echoes, warm strings and a pretty cool groove makes it a nice connection to the techno of today however without leaving the basic "clonk" touch of the album. "My Pocket" follows this and more jazz vibes are spreaded, almost in a soundtrack-style this tune breathes the air of a hard night, of too much alcohol and the cool and grey summer morning after all this. Epic! And "The Keys" is the right answer to this, the sound after you got over the hangover, the energy is back and the beats start banging again and the vocals call us to "enter the signs of today".
"Britz Wind" slows down the tempo again and is introducing the near end of the album. A round package, again soundtrack-loaded but still the right sound for the summer. Track number nine ("The Surf Owl") is a bizarre melting pot of heavy beats, ocean surf and synthesizer bird-sounds, a creation that will not be loved by everybody but so far the track with the highest creative potential on this album. Brave, different, not easy to eat but very tasty if you try to. And Matt Johns stays brave with "Today": A New-Order-bassline and vocals that appear to be recorded through DJ-headphones meet a funky guitar and create a great piece of music with a high recall value. Last but not least there is "Froydish" waiting for us as the last track that is literally closing the door of Matt Johns musical world. A hypnotic beat and sounds that follow a more contemporary direction form a soft and warm ending for a heavy album. A collection of tracks that want time and attention from the listener but takes one on a journey into musical madness in return. More albums like this and Techno will exist for at least 20 more years!