For an artist who only mines uncompromising territories, Matteo Ruzzon’s career arc has proven strangely malleable. Through his half-decade career the man better known as Madteo has had releases arrive on a vast range of hallowed labels, yet he only seems at home wherever he decides to drop. The three tracks on Workshop that many rightfully consider his breakthrough are all intensely maniacal, ideally suited for the degenerate house staple. This year has seen two high-profile releases of vastly different consequence. Bugler Gold Pt. 1, the maiden release on Joy Orbison and Will Bankhead’s Hinge Finger, found the Queens, New York producer scaling back the paranoia-inducing tendencies for an EP of relatively low-slung head-knockers. The mission statement of his brutal contribution to The Trilogy Tapes is rather bluntly stated at the tail end of side A: “There’s special overblown chords in there that produce different tones that you wouldn’t be able to get any other way, you know what I’m talking about?” (A single listen and that’s resoundingly clear.) It’s curious because he’s not compromising his values to slot within these brand’s aesthetics. All his releases sound uniquely Madteo. Rather, it seems as if the labels are broadening their borders to discover that it can work on a mutually beneficial level.
Finnish based Sähkö Recordings possess a pointed catalog in their own right, defined foremost by their early forays into perpetually hiccuping minimal. But they’re known less for broadening boarders than careful curation. As such, the announcement of this double-LP raised some eyebrows as to who would be the first to budge: Madteo and his knack for never meeting an ugly sample he couldn’t further muddle or Sähkö and their track record of sprightly delirious purist techno. Thankfully the answer is neither as both sides spark some common ground on Noi No, commiserating over an hour’s worth of audio anxiety. “Rut-a-Round” doesn’t so much set the table as much as drop us bare-assed into the proceedings, a stark wasteland where birds chirping and people singing are drowned by a recurring head-rush propulsion. There’s nothing resembling a beat and it’s only appropriate given what’s forthcoming. From there, “Dead Drop (When I Saw You That Nite)” finds a ketted vocal sample wisping amongst a limp string of muted bumps until they all lockstep and we arrive at our first semblance of propulsion. Enjoy it while it lasts, however, as it’s really the only thing here that I can envision receiving any real dance floor rub. (And I’m even being generous using the term “dance floor.” 4 a.m. out-of-conscious writhe session is probably more appropriate.) A faux-glimmer of brevity is granted by the casual chord progression of “Gory Glory,” yet even that slight chance at reprieve is rendered obsolete by the unshakable feeling that the bottom could drop in a hurry. The bits of barely fragmented spoken word splashed at random throughout also do little to ease the tension.
If you liken the first bit of Noi No to the opening of The Shining — an arrival at a wholly bleak locale sporting an ominous vibe that things can and will go awry — then the middle portion is where Jack really starts to lose his marbles. Madteo clearly prides himself in his ability to recontextualize plain pieces of dialogue and force them into a realm of dementia-tinged rhetoric. “Vox Your Nu Yr Resolution” is the album’s brashest attempt at such. It finds a man asking a boy the title question (translation: “What’s your New Year’s resolution?”) to which the boy responds, “Staying out of trouble.” And that’s it. Without any further sonic accompaniment, the two trip over one another and a wake of sputtering chemtrail fallout for the entirety of the six-minute track.
Less creepy, yet somehow more curious, is “Rugrats Don’t Techno for an Answer.” If you’re even remotely versed in the current urban radio landscape, you’ll immediately recognize the “I’ve been in this club too long” sample as belonging to Drake. Madteo takes it a bit further, also ripping the underpinning organ flourish from the Canadian pop-star’s “Marvin’s Room” and slapping Juicy J’s now-trademark “trippy!” ad-lib liberally throughout. In this current era of crossover, where hip-hop anthems crib liberally from the realm of electronic music (and vice versa, really, within footwork and trap and the like), “Rugrats” serves as a needed reminder that merely talking about how far gone you are does not necessarily equate trippy music. No, if you want true reality-disarming psychedelia, you should try working your braggadocios proclamations around a series of brutish laser squirms that serve no continual circumstance other than their ability to flip your perception of standard song construct. Madteo has that covered here.
The remainder of the release is no less impish. It wasn’t until I sat down to write the review that I was able to discern the backbone of “Tanti, Maledetti e Sempre” — a typewriter clicking amongst the bustle of upward implosions and more mumbling — proving that he can be coy with his sample sources if he so chooses. “Vitruvian Nightmare” and “Ratskeller” act as ambient comedowns, sinister in how they play against the preceding commotion. And he closes with “Change We Could But Didnt,” with its sound deliberately pitched down to where the only discernible component is a metallic pluck for the eight-minute duration because why wouldn’t he do that? That Noi No arrives in the 12th month of this 2012 calendar year is noteworthy for two reasons. One, if the Mayan prophecy does come to fruition and the world crumbles in less than three weeks, at least we’ll have a proper soundtrack. And perhaps more pertinently for all of us geeking out over our year-end lists, Madteo, acting as master of sound construct and chaos, has served up a palette of clamor that is bound to give anyone willing to give it a listen a brush with panic, both in list construct and otherwise.