Dressed to Chill
LA’s Matthewdavid is an artist whose musical stylings so closely rub against the chillwave moniker that it seems like the genre is a glove tailor-made for his hand. His work runs a route similar to bigger names like Flying Lotus and Toro y Moi, but with less of the catchy dance grooves and more of the loosely layered textures that weave a psychedelic blanket for the listener. In My World is his latest full-length release, a brief but weighty record that meanders through a warm fog of sounds with no sense of direction and a carefree, lost-in-the-woods attitude.
The opening title track breaks out with a few record scratches that lead into a warped R&B sing-along that alternately drags and surges in rhythm, as though it’s swimming underwater and occasionally coming up for air. Echoing vocals and melodies are piled onto the mellow backing beat in such a way that it often seems to be several similarly flavored songs playing at once. This kind of sampling and layering could easily become hectic and discordant, but Matthewdavid’s relentless pursuit of calm keeps it from becoming overwhelming.
With little regard for traditional song structures, In My World keeps an organic feel by allowing tracks to morph and fade through various movements without letting any particular melody or motif solidify. A few exceptions, such as “Perpetual Moon Moods,” give some semblance of order by threading a vocal refrain throughout the track. However, the album as a whole forsakes neat and measured in favor of a purposefully messy sort of trance-like free form hip-hop that has all its hard edges blunted and softened. Even during “West Coast Jungle Juke,” easily the most frenetic moment on the album, the snappy break beats are dulled by gallons of reverb and layers of aimless melody that keep the tension from ever really breaking.
It’s this lackadaisical sense of reveling in disorder that will most likely polarize listeners when it comes to Matthewdavid. For some, the flowing fluidity of this kind of music will be a liberating break from uptightness and the confines of music theory. For others, it may come off as sloppy and self-indulgent. Whichever way your judgments fall, you can rest assured that Matthewdavid probably doesn’t care in the least.