Mat Zo – Self Assemble (Album Review)
After making some massive claims regarding electronic music last year which caused a stir in the dance music community, Mat Zo had a lot to live up to with his long awaited second album “Self Assemble”. What didn’t help was the fact that his first album, “Damage Control” was critically acclaimed by many within dance music and is now considered a modern-day masterpiece with mesmerising tracks such as The Sky and the massive Easy with Porter Robinson.
Luckily he’s lived up to the hype.
Blending genres and sounds in a way only Zo can achieve, this record flows incredibly well as the tracks move from one to the other almost telling a story of the different styles of electronic music. At times the album is reminiscent of Zo’s incredible Essential Mix from back in 2013 in the way that it progresses and constantly surprises the listeners. A lot funkier than Damage Control, it’s no less incredible.
Beginning with the beautifully atmospheric “Order out of Chaos” which starts with an absolute wall of sound that boggles the mind in how Zo even went about designing something so complex, this sets the tone for the rest of the record in a cracking way. The melody soon crescendos and we’re introduced in to the meat of the album with “The Enemy”. Bringing out all the good funky vibes on this track, again Zo exhibits his insane production talents which are a staple of the album. Featuring vocals from the wonderful Sinead Egan, this is a great uplifting tune that’ll no doubt have you dancing in your chair or in the club.
“Sinful” acts to continue the funky good-time vibes and transports us to a cool summertime drive. It has us yearning for happier times and again the guest vocals from I SEE MONSTAS go a long way in getting across this happy vibe. Featuring an uplifting almost french house inspired bassline and squelch synths that wouldn’t look out of place on a Daft Punk or Madeon record, this is another stunning track from the record. “Patterns Emerging” feels like a bridge into the next section of the album and is unfortunately short. The orchestral element really brings out the emotion on this track and we only wish it was longer. “Killing Time” has those classic chopped up vocals that Zo uses to great effect and some nicely programmed drums that could be a nod to the drum and bass he used to put out under MRSA.
“Smacked up on Jack” features some cool middle eastern sounds and a wacky vocal sample that helps to progress the album and keep the listener interested, again though we feel like it’s a bit too short and are left wanting more. The next tune “Ruffneck Bad Boy VIP” is an absolute mammoth and one of our favourites off the record. Opening with an immense rhodes melodic sequence and after some nice vocals, the track rips into the electro house and dubstep infused banger that it really is. Some dirty, dirty sound design and drum production will have the dance floors going wild and shows us again why Zo is so good, it’s a far cry from the funkier elements of the earlier stuff on the album and shows how Zo can show off a range of electronic sounds. “Lights Out” is a straight up hard hitting electro banger with an infectious vocal sample that only needs to be heard to be understood. Not much more needs to be said about it!
Coming into the last section of the record, “Soul Food” returns us to the groove with an astonishing house beat and bass line that have us questioning how Zo makes it so hard not to smile listening to this album.”Stereo no Aware” starts sounding like it’s taken straight from a space movie epic and soon transforms into a goose bump inducing melody with a driving growling bass line that bring back the epic dubstep we all used to love a couple of years ago. Skrillex eat your heart out. Finishing off this record on a more emotional note, “Too Late” starts off like a guitar ballad and then transforms into something totally different. Egan’s melancholic vocals enhance this track to great effect and is all backed by Zo’s lovely downbeat production until we’re treated to a monster of a climax around half way through the track which will surely blow the cobwebs right off you. Zo says goodbye to us with the phenomenal “The Last Transmission” and what a way this is to close out an incredible sophmore album for the English producer. The melancholic piano chords are a subtle and pleasing way to close out this journey of a record.
Mat Zo really has outdone himself here and we’re really looking forward to hearing some of these bombs dropped live. Surely a contender for album of the year at such an early stage, yet again it’s only the best delivered by Mat Zo.