Aaron Frank recommends playing this at a high volume near a residential reservoir.
Less than a year ago, XLR8R’s podcast series peeled the curtain back on Leaving Records and its mysterious proprietor, Matthewdavid, a Florida transplant to LA making woozy, ambient beat music that providd a perfect soundtrack to Southern California’s scorching summers. Prior to that, it had been relatively difficult to find his music, which was mostly released on tape through his own Leaving imprint. Even the critics who had heard it were surprisingly quiet about it. Quite often, uncategorizable and incomparable music ends up being the best kind — and though there was an initial uncertainty at how to even approach and evaluate Matthewdavid, people were steadily drawn into his gravitational pull — a universe poignantly encompassed on his on his debut LP, Outmind.
The fact that Matthewdavid is a regular on the experimental internet-radio station dublab comes as little surprise — especially when you consider that Outmind sounds like the broadcast beamed from a pirate radio station in a Phillip K. Dick novel. The lead single “International” is a left-field hip-hop inspired track that layers and builds on itself before spinning out in scatterbrained fury and giving way to the blissful, ambient textures of the Flying Lotus-aided, “Group Tea.” That track anchors the core of the album between “International” and the second single “Like You Mean It”, a tapestry of wobbly basslines and warped samples from vintage R&B cassettes. The point is really driven home on “Cucumber-Line” where the spooling sound of an old tape deck mimics a hi-hat and steers the smooth, ambient rhythm of the track.
These unique production methods not only provide continuity for the album, but also project a courageous, independent identity for the artist who very few can still claim in electronic or ambient. One of the best tracks on the album (and one that Matthewdavid played on his XLR8R mix last year) is “Noche y Dia/San Raphael”, which molds a sample of “25 Lighters On My Dresser” from an old DJ Screw tape i to the backdrop of what could only be described as a candy-coated astral funk jam. If you’re wondering whether or not this all translates live too, Matthewdavid puts on a larger spectacle than you’d imagine, and these sprawling tracks sound even more incredible when given the room to build and breathe.
Nonetheless, Outmind serves as the type of rare first LP that not only delineates an artist among his peers, but also increases the credibility of the entire scene by advancing ambient and electronic music to a new frontier. With this album Matthewdavid has redefined the parameters of an already very loosely defined genre by experimenting with new forms of composition, mining rare sources of material, and maximizing the potential of his eccentric sampling techniques. Considering those three points, you’d be hard pressed to find many young electronic artists as forward-thinking, but Outmind is a comforting reminder that the scene in Los Angeles still seems to be constantly evolving.