Album Review : Matthewdavid – Mycelium Music: A beguiling ambient sound maze with a magical pull.

The Breakdown

This maybe the sound of new-form, post-human composition stepping out. The route to such sounds is intriguing but what is more significant is the otherworldly and fragile beauty of the pieces Matthewdavid oversees.
Leaving Records 8.7

Matthewdavid has been at the hub of LA’s Leaving Records community since 2008, co-founding the label with artist Jesselisa Moretti and steadily releasing his own music through the portal over the years. His roots may have been in the underground and electronic hip-hop scene but his output through Leaving has primarily explored more fluid, hypnotic instrumental dimensions (check in with the ‘Trust The Guide And Glide‘ from 2016 or 2020’s ‘Care Tracts‘). Although such releases could be lazily labelled ‘New Age’, Matthewdavid’s music is not any sort of superficial derivative coming as it does from a deep understanding of this too readily dismissed genre. As a composer and producer he takes the power of the minimal and mesmeric, introduces personality and edge to arrive with a sound that probes unpredictability.

His latest exploration ‘Mycelium Music’, available now through Leaving Records captures a confluence of energies, electronics and experimentalism first hinted at during his ‘Mushrooms EP‘, released at the start of ’23. Matthewdavid takes the oozing vitality of that primer and intensifies it, feeding in complexities of process and spontaneity. The approach is important here with much of the ‘Mycelium Music’ album evolving from his interactions with the Norns open-source music computer. Yes, this maybe the sound of new-form, post-human composition stepping out.

Fittingly the album’s opener Norns acknowledges its fundamental circuitry. A lightly dialled electro search soon loops and curls into a multi-layered whirlpool of ringing notes, the soundtrack to a culture spreading under the microscope. The crackles, the clicks, the whistles and trills recede then return, regenerating through the hardware’s scripted improvisation. The route to such sounds is intriguing but remains only part of Matthewdavid’s statement. What is more significant is the otherworldly and fragile beauty of the pieces he oversees.

Following the Leaving Records ethos, ‘Mycelium Music‘ also flourishes on community and collaboration. Harpist Nailah Hunter’s pristine plucks and strums soak through the tingling orchestration of Perpetuity where an illusive melody shimmers enticingly below the surface. Longstanding label-mate Brin provides added Norns interpretation on the rippling note-filled passage of Liquidity while beat-making synthesist Eric Michael Vallely (aka EMV) adds dense chord waves to the closing tides of Harvest and more distinct vibe toned Korg to the nocturnal peace of Phased Moon.

This carefully selected detailing from fellow musicians and friends highlights the forensic application that Matthewdavid brings to his latest project. The margins may be fine but pay attention and you will be rewarded by the subtle shifts that distinguish ‘Mycelium Music’. There are also moments of well positioned contrast that re-constitute the ambience. The gorgeous roll of Zithertronica sways through the cadences with suggestions of post rock landscapes, Bon Iver and even warm guitar jangles. Its partner track Zithercelium brings rain droplets and bug life from John Randono’s cenotes field recordings to instil a mystical earthiness within the track. Elsewhere the same realism drifts through the pastoral drones of X as well as the sonorous Spills, with creaks, bells and whirring mechanisms trickling from the peak of each track’s revolution.

Being inspired by the Mycelium, the unfathomable, infinitesimal subterranean root system which binds and nourishes all plant life, might have set Matthewdavid on a wildly ambitious path, where his response became overthought and overwrought. Instead his musical reply to the challenge articulates the magical connectivity of the phenomenon with fluidity and an impressionistic flair. ‘Mycelium Music’ may demand deep listening and concentration to appreciate the intense weaves and nuanced networks drawn within and between each of the dozen tracks, but the overall rewards are a marvel. Here’s an album that can puzzle but its maze of sound becomes bewilderingly addictive.

Get your copy of ‘Mycelium Music’ by Matthewdavid from your local record shop or direct from: HERE

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