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Madteo – Raveyard Shifts

Is it the fundamental nature of its complete brokenness, and disconnection from a navigable, scalable, trenchant grid of reference, that has kept Madteo’s music so hermetically sealed? The stoned mumble, curled papers, deft looseness of touch all seem so tangible and recognisable at this point that hearing a new record seems like slipping back into an old fever dream; the shapes different and the same. Often it’s the character of the weirdness rather than the weirdness itself that seems most familiar, and along with the consistency in terms of that ‘oddball’ approach there’s an out-of-time, out-of-progression quality to the music.

Madteo - Raveyard Shifts
Raveyard Shifts
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The oblique and oddly dispossessed tracks from 2008’s Memoria could just as easily fit upon more recent offerings like Noi No or Bugler Gold pt. 1, the atmosphere never deviating too dramatically from hazy, semi-conscious. Even in a moment where oddity is commodity in electronic production his sounds have particular personality. It’s tempting to see such continuity as un-developing or unadventurous, yet the argument might instead be that Matteo Ruzzon has evolved to this degree and found his own voice faster than others might elsewhere – and so development can take a back seat.

So, Raveyard Shift, three more ‘straight non-bangers’ from the man on the small and tidy French label Latency. There’s some misdirection with the static blasting at the start of first track “Irreconcilable Indifferences” because, as with other work by artists on this label, these are fragile, shuffling tracks. The beat tends to wander, throaty kicks and little ticks offset and stop-start, gaining momentum then dropping it again in loops – seeming to resolve itself when a whistling chime comes into focus then losing conviction as it passes.

There are only the most distant of hints of a melody on “Hoodshedding”, floating in and amassing almost as incidental intrusions – a little like the birdsong and cicadas on Grouper’s Ruins last year perhaps; caught in the margins and pinned there, ebbing gently with the current and ear-catching for existing on the edge of the field of view. These are both strange, sleepy little numbers – beguiling and beginning to compare to those long stretches of early afternoon, post-lunch, where ones’ consciousness starts to submerge.

“Discomfort Zone” twitches out of it, beatlessness twisted into something rougher, more siren-esque. Pulling listeners inward and down with spiraling, dubbed out snatches of voice and fragmentary loops. Latency’s choice of cover art is apt, a cinematic vision of the mirage or islands lost in fugue dreams hovering again in the sound. Madteo’s zone might often seem semi-imagined, semi-conscious and insistent in repetition – maybe occasionally even a little boring – but when the mood is right you can be fully hoodwinked by it again.

Matthew Kent


A1. Irreconcilable Indifferences
B1. Hoodshedding
B2. Discomfort Zone