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CD Feature/ Mad EP: "Bass.Hed"

img  Tobias
Finding a distinct voice is is a neverending process to Matthew Peters. Already on his epic “Madlands Trilogy”, he collected works from different phases of his life, bringing together some of his most recent compositions and combining them with the first pieces he ever wrote. “Bass.Hed”, too, stretches from 2004 to 2008 and represents a project of, again, vast dimensions and demands, involving several guests and collaborators and condensing the MAD EP sound to a glistening residue.

For even though the two ghostly instrumental tracks opening the record suggest Peters might be haunted by the same ghosts as on “Madlands”, “Bass.Hed” is a much more homogenous affair. On its predecessor, after all, the music could virtually go anywhere: Into cinematic soundscape territory, Aphex-Twin-like electronica, into Drum n Bass and polyrhythmic frenzy, even touching upon Jazz and full-fledged improvisation.

The first time an MC steps into the arena, dropping his lyrics to the dust-dry beats and chiming melodic bliss of “Down in the Gutter”, it therefore initially seems like yet another diversification into another terra incognita. When the spartanic sceleton-structures and Cello-ornamentations of “51 Areas” and the ultradub of “Nightcrawler” have passed, however, it has become clear that just one of Peters’ multidimensional attachments to the most diverse genres has survived on this occasion: His love for HipHop, deep grooves and prismatic loops.

If “Bass.Hed” has taken a full four years to complete, then at least part of that time must be attributed to working with a roster of artists spread around the globe. From current Berlin-residents Aaron Spectre and the Puppetmastaz crew to US-based MAD/EQ, Chicago.producer Luka and Saxophone player Scott Lamberty, the album acts as an Atlantic bridge, solidified by an astute feeling of who could contribute sensibly to the overall sound and who couldn’t.

Supported by this eclectic safety net of perfomers, Peters manages to keep these fourteen pieces complementary, while investigating a different perspective in each one. On “Clones”, the bass pumps mercilessly as if played by a mechanical funk machine, “Nocturnal Journals” consists of nothing but a drum shuffle and the most minimal tonal blips, while “Throw your Towels” is based on a hypnotically repeated toy organ line.

“Bass.Hed” is further enhanced by the MAD-EP-typical Cello-lines, which already highlighted previous efforts. Using acoustic instruments and even paying hommage to classical music are not necessarily innovative as such anymore in HipHop, but what marks Peters’ string-contributions as special is their immediacy. Instead of sampling himself or mechanically looping a small chunk of music, his themes run with the flow, coming with minute variations and lyrical archs.

The constant exchange between these different layers and between instrumental and vocals pieces lends the same kind of crawly tension to the album as the colourful infinity of “Madlands”, as different as these works may be structured on paper and as different as they may sound like in practise. In the final five minutes of closing tune “Leaving Brooklyn”, they even come together in a single track, tattered shardes of speach duetting with broken Cello sighs and frantically struck ghoulish Piano keys. The notion of Peters constantly spiralling in on a distinct compositional voice, without ever surrendering fully to a “school” or dogmatic “style” has probably never been as obvious as here.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Mad EP
Homepage: Ad Noiseam Records

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