Matthewdavid has a lot going for him. Aside from the de facto buzz of his integration in the ridiculously fertile LA beat scene, he’s landed on Brainfeeder – the Ninja Tune imprint of avant-electro godhead Flying Lotus. He’s in very good company, and sure to be given a lot of attention as a result. So it probably isn’t too surprising to learn that Matthewdavid sounds very Los Angeles of the now; heavy on the drums, skittering moonstruck breakbeats over the top of a smoky groove.
Unfortunately the density of his work doesn’t necessarily translate in album-length doses. His debut record Outmind doesn’t quite add up to an engaging, revisit-worthy dance album. It is divided into a dozen, heavily-detailed two-minute chunks. These components sound heavily worked on; flaring synths, kinked samples, and stampeding, brain-intruding drums. Matthewdavid has an obvious penchant for complex breakbeats, flipping percussive sounds all over his record with little care (or perhaps, little notice) for subtlety. They’re bruising, complex, and lovingly FlyLo-tian. He slots quite easily in amongst his Brainfeeder peers, but there’s little here to aggressively distinguish his own production persona. He’s got a lurching, tidal-wave surge of amniotic pomp. His beats seem to recede and push against one another, as if competing for floorspace. With so many of his peers embracing the same interwoven, multifaceted sounds, it’s a tack that can get a little tiring.
That’s not to say the album doesn’t work on an aesthetic level; plenty of these clips deserve recognition for the workmanship exhibited. The stickiest is the washing-machine warble of International which features a blurred, hallucinogenic vocal take from frequent collaborator Dogbite. The song tumbles around in druggy intangibility – a rattling snare, a dizzy synth-beam, it pulls the rug out from under itself. But even at his highlights Matthewdavid fails to pull his listener close, instead isolating them in a strange place away from danceability, but also away from anything commandingly new. He aims at euphoria far more times than he actually achieves it; the dubstep-lite Like You Mean It aspires to be a club anthem (down to incorporating a rave-tastic falsetto lilt) but its wings are clipped by sheer number of moving parts weighing him down.
Still, being lumped in with his Brainfeeder contemporaries is certainly not a bad thing, and outside of his niche-scene very few things sound like Outmind. But as it stands the record looks like a middling representation of the influences behind it, effortlessly adaptable, but unfortunately easy to pigeonhole. Matthewdavid has indisputable talent as a producer and sound-maker, and one day he might be able to rein in his hyperactive beats and A.D.D. cuts and craft something iconoclastically in his own voice. For now his music drifts by irritatingly uncontested.