Jan Matiz ~ II

Jan Matiz‘s experimental second album II is a beguiling mix of appealing acoustic guitar melodies surrounded by a chaotic haze of glitch and samples. Always playful, it is charmingly unpredictable yet singalong melodic.

Opener “Siebenacht” sets the tone of the album by opening with a haze of gentle feedback that hails a gorgeous guitar melody in 7/8 time. A drum machine joins and immediately starts messing with our sense of where the pulse is, which is then enhanced by the addition of a captivating mix of unexpected sounds. Matiz describes himself as an experimental composer and listening to the track, you get a clear picture of him experimenting with random sound combinations to see what appealing combinations he can find, with remarkably successful results. This reviewer is particularly charmed by the contrast between how difficult it is to describe precisely what’s going on and yet how coherent the musical narrative is.

Matiz clearly has a sense of humour—there’s a piece called “Kleiner Song” (little song) that is spread over three tracks and lasts more than 13 minutes—but this isn’t a funny album. Rather he seems to enjoy the irony of potentially incompatible things turning out to go really well together. To give one example, “Dwarf” begins with a machine drum beat that is surely a reference to “Blue Monday” by New Order, but pivots so completely in the second half of the first minute that it’s extraordinary that the track in its entirely feels so logical.

“Modderland” (mud land) is particularly dark, and seems to reference the landscape in which he recorded the album, which he describes like this:

When I had finished the compositions I wanted to rent an empty house for 2 months in order to record and produce the material in solitude. After some research what I could find was an abandoned, half wrecked former brothel in the nothingness of Groningen, Netherlands. Autumn was arriving and while I had started with the last summer sun rays it quickly became very cold. Between extensive walks among the sheep populating the dikes of the Ems-Delta – a fantastic, lonely bit of wadden sea – all I had to entertain myself in the evening with was an edition of Cosey Fanni Tutti s Art Sex Music and a few old episodes of the X Files.

Perhaps some of the contrasts that make this album so compelling are explained by what happened next:

Later the same year [2017] I moved my life to Athens and had to leave some of the album’s work unfinished. In Greece I struggled to reconnect with the mystic, foggy atmosphere I had experienced on the countryside of Holland. After 2 years I concluded that I had to give way to what I was truly feeling at that time instead. The last gaps I filled with sounds of city heat, love and chaos.

In any case, this is a really captivating album, full of unexpected charms. If you enjoy serendipity, you’ll enjoy this. (Garreth Brooke)

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