Matthew Styles, Aji-No-Moto

[Running Back]

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Few and far between, Matthew Styles’ productions are carefully weighed before being released into the wild. While admirable and uncommon in dance music’s breakneck marketplace, his sense of restraint wouldn’t mean much if the DJ/producer couldn’t assert it productively in the music itself. Happily, on entering Aji-No-Moto, the latest entry in his brief discography, the sense of intention is palpable and galvanizing. The three sleek tracks offered here are heartily functional, while their precision-tooled construction holds its own sit-down appeal too.

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This is particularly true of “Montana,” a nine-minute excursion that gets excellent mileage out of a looped break, some flicking bass notes, a squirming arpeggio, and a gleaming collage of pads. With a sense of symmetry, Styles establishes the track’s sturdy funk and then leavens it patiently, weaving fine layers of analog synth with every pass and ultimately resolving into the big, turbulent skies of its namesake. After “Montana Bonus Beats” puts the rhythm loop through a series of effects, the EP closes with two briefer, bass line- and vocal sample–driven tracks that undergo the same transformation “Montana” does: it’s as if Styles lays a foundation with seriousness so he can move toward euphoria that much more quickly and stealthily. The slightly rigid, robotic shuffle of “Hot!” gets smoothed out into more luxurious contours on “Sixty Ways,” which deftly juxtaposes gruff barks with a mollifying R&B coo. “You know it’s so hot,” it reassures us. With tracks this deliberate, the reminder is scarcely necessary.

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