Matthew Styles, Sample & Hold EP

[Running Back]

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Matthew Styles is not a consistent producer in the conventional sense of the word. The Berlin-based Englishman has released diverse tracks for an odd clutch of labels (BPitch Control, Diamonds & Pearls, and Horizontal); has been more prolific in collaboration (with Dinky, Tobi Neumann, and Pier Bucci) than by himself; and until now hadn’t put out a solo record in three years. Yet there are a few constants in his work that keep me looking for his name: A Styles release is all but guaranteed to have excellent drum programming that makes his tracks a pleasure to mix. They’re often laden with big, zesty bass lines more memorable than some producer’s hooks. Perhaps most important of all, at least one track on each record is usually a killer, even if the rest are merely decent. (Who remembers the flip of “We Said Nothing”?) So when Styles’ new Sample & Hold EP on Running Back hit the shops I greeted it with excitement and apprehension, curious if my assumptions would hold up.

In some ways Sample & Hold EP is the quintessential Styles release. Its four tracks unspool themselves patiently and largely predictably, pitted with natural entrances and exits for the DJ on the go. His signature bass lines make noteworthy appearances in “Don’t Call Me Again” and “Galaxy 21,” at times doing the grunt work of roping dancers onto the floor. The former is more infectious, its jangling, disco-fied beat underpinning the flattened fanfare of synth horns. “Galaxy 21” is trackier still, stripped down to cowbell-clad percussion with a mumbling bass line rubbing against the rhythms. Least essential is “Scale,” a see-sawing tool nicked by small drum shards and streaked with falling tones. But it’s “Polee” that more than justifies the whole package. Heard in a DJ set you might mistake its shapeshifting pads and dexterous, popping percussion for vintage Villalobos. A heavily affected piano riff cartwheels through the sublime atmosphere, its resonance shifting from organic realness to synthetic sheen with gorgeous, unexpected fluidity. The record also includes with an unremarkable “Sample & Hold” locked groove based on nervous bloops and bleeps appearing in “Don’t Call Me Again.” Matthew Styles might not be any more predictable with the Sample & Hold EP in his discography, but it lends still more evidence that he can be trusted to deliver the goods, in one form or another, time after time.

GeoffShoulders  on September 23, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Loving Polee too. Superb.

dean muhsin  on September 28, 2011 at 11:29 AM

you can hear Matthew enjoy playing with his synths in his music and i love it


Little White Earbuds September Charts 2011 | Little White Earbuds  on October 7, 2011 at 10:11 AM

[…] Oskar Offermann & Moomin, “Nasty Nate” [Aim] (buy) 07. Matthew Styles, “Polee” [Running Back] (buy) 08. Dexter, “Great Northern Diver” [Clone Basement Series] (buy) […]

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