Album Review: Pie Eye Collective – ‘Tangential City’ : a fresh, forward thinking soundtrack for today’s metropolis.

The Breakdown

'Tangential City’ is a fresh and forward thinking record, blending techno, experimental, dub, jazz and nu-soul with the added tang of punchy global influences. Here we have a 21st century urban soundscape that goes beyond fusion to reveal something more fundamental.
Albert's Favourites 8.7

The city of today inspires so much music. For many musicians it brings on the panoramic, where a wide-eyed trip over the urban landscape gets imagined in sweeping soundtracks. But some are less in in awe of the enormity; they zone in closer, moved by the meshed lives of the people, the crossing paths, the inter-culture. This is where Matthew Gordon aka Pie Eye Collective fixes his gaze, an electronic musician and producer who starts at street level before scaling it up, treading the same walk-ways as dark-wave genius Actress or, more recently, Lorraine James’s feisty agit-glitch.

Gordon’s debut Pie Eye Collective album ‘Salvation’ definitely turned heads, Radio 6’ers Ravenscroft and Hobbs included, with its vibrant broken beat bustle. So its follow up ‘Tangential City’, again released through the very fine Albert’s Favourites, arrives under a weight of expectation that it more than meets full on . The new record finds Gordon increasingly confident in his approach, still focused on tight bundled electro beats but with the assurance to fragment and divert without losing impact.

Opener ‘Away Mission’ introduces such expansion, its glistening synth tide, undercurrent groans and swelling pulse suspending the moment before a chunky trip-hop groove pushes to the surface. As the rhythms judder and spacey electro signals bleep there’s a sense of Gordon introducing this story with a tense wake-up stretch, from here anything could happen. Leaving the agenda open like this seems to be one of the guiding principles for Pie Eye Collective music and such freedom accounts for ‘Tangential City’ being such a fresh and forward thinking record.

Over the run of 13 tracks you find an intricate blend of techno, experimental, dub, jazz and nu-soul bubbling within each cut plus the added tang of punchy global influences in the mix. The lithesome ‘Land of Wood and Water’ glides to an almost schmaltzy latin calypso or as Gordon describes it Jamaican from a slightly different time line”. Carefree and effortlessly hip there are suggestions here of the same lounge developments being explored in the current LA weird-jazz scene (think Gendel, Wilkes and Leaving Records) as well as echoes of heyday Ultramarine. A similar nineties electro pop gentleness trickles through ‘Line Of Best Fit’ but rippling around the wooziness, the breeze of Japanese electronics and the tingle of gamelan cycles deliver something more exotic.

Unsurprisingly such subtle and surreptitious musical flavourings crackle most distinctively when Gordon’s buddy and label-mate Hector Plimmer eases into the action on ‘Pie’s Eyes’. The pair are frequent collaborators on each other’s projects, Gordon bringing broken beat sharpness to Plimmer’s more earthy rhythms, but here the balance shifts. Amidst the looping nu-jazz patterns and drum machine pops, rattling timpales open up the tune’s sumptuous intimate vibe and force it out into the night time street carnival.

What Pie Eye Collective develops on this record is a sort of post-world music shaped within the mega-city, going beyond fusion to something more fundamental, a 21st century urban soundscape maybe. The impressive part is that ‘Tangential City’ still feels so natural and uncontrived, rarely guilty of over-thinking it or losing out on the energy or drive. Much of this comes down to Gordon maintaining an unapologetically machine rhythmed and jazz vamped momentum as in Summation‘s broken beat grumble. There’s even a deep house bounce to the chiming ambience of ‘Searching’ as well as some muscular techno thrust in the stripped back and stark ‘Axiom’.

The album also continues to delve into the possibilities that open up with the deftest rhythmic disruption. Even the most pumped tracks enjoy unexpected stutters and flutters where the bpm seems slightly out of sync and new rhythms emerge. Title track ‘Tangential City’ mesmerises in this way, hurtling through its interchanging beats, gear shifts and tempo drops like a seamlessly joined stop-frame animation. Synth sirens soar over the pulsating action while a throbbing bass stomps around low and deep underground. Like much of this album, ‘Tangential City’ is a brilliantly graphic, almost visual experience.

As impressive as such filmic potential is Pie Eye Collective’s ability to merge some mathematical leanings into his musical mindset without reducing the album to some form of soul-less systems music. You only have to listen to swooning samba-techno of ‘Regeneration’ or the rising elevation in the chord loops during ‘The Infinite Boundary’ to recognise the sensitivity and emotional connection that’s at work throughout the record.

Gordon has called Tangential Citythe atlas of my musical/artistic mind” and this complex mapping of sounds, rhythms and ideas certainly rewards discovery. Here’s one heady mix of potent and compelling contemporary electronic music that dares any serious turntablist to abstain.

Get your copy of ‘Tangential City’ by Pie Eye Collective form your local record store or direct from:

Previous NEWS: Technology + Teamwork announce debut album, share 'Amsterdam'
Next News; Lumer release new single 'English Dream'

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.