Two First Names, One Wild Concert: Matthewdavid Takes Eclectic
Last Friday night, the experimental electronic/hip-hop act known as Matthewdavid rocked eclected. Hailing from Los Angeles and signed to beat math godead Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label, Matthewdavid’s music features pieces that mix sample-heavy, beat-dominated hip-hop tropes with ambient, almost ethereal waves of electronic sound which seem to fold out from the core of the music like sonic smoke.
Describing the musician’s most recent album, Outmind, the Brainfeeder site writes: “Peel back a layer of smog from the LA sky and fold yourself into the blanket of haze. . . .Matthewdavid operates in this magnetic cocoon, unspooling magic radiance. His music reflects beautiful, fleeting moments and magnifies them. Matthewdavid’s compositions float like crackling clouds, antenna amplifying the dreams of the city below.”
When he played Eclectic on Friday, Matthewdavid all but embodied that description, almost weaving his songs before his audience’s eyes. The resulting music, supplemented by gentle blue-and-red lighting, alternated between throbbing and whispering with beats hiccuping confidently forward while vibrating melodies wafted out in their wake.
In many ways, the songs themselves were hard to track, with indeterminate beginnings and ends and disorienting breaks at the center of the compositions. While the audience swayed and bobbed, almost hypnotized by the strange and beautiful soundscapes presented, Matthewdavid stood at his table seemingly hundreds of miles away and wrapped up in the creation of the music that was moving slowly throughout the house.
While the show didn’t have the raw energy of Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire’s performance a week earlier, there was still a slow-burning verve to the affair, with each vibrating tone seeming to hang in the air like a softly excited atom, creating a coiled-spring intensity to each song. With the unpredictable pacing of the music, each piece seemed in its own way, whether quiet or booming, alive and volatile, with notes grinding to unforeseen halts and musical arcs climaxing in nearly invisible thrums of bass and melody.
As the music pulsated outward from the quiet, engaged performer at the head of the room, there was something arcane and mystically beautiful about the evening. As Brainfeeder writes, “Matthewdavid’s live performances are akin to watching a sorcerer conjure spirits from the deep. He pulls tones like artifacts from an astral trail that ebbs and flows with fresh discoveries”—an incredibly fitting description. His sounds, by turns exotic, haunting, and exalting, thundered out into the audience like summoned storms, which brought with them tender wisps of cloud and crackling swaths of electricity that both lulled and enlivened whoever happened to be in the way of their movement around the packed room.
As snippets of barely recognizable sample merged with alien strains of revelatory electronic lullaby, the whole event couldn’t help but seem strangely appropriate for a weekend marked by the convergence of the two major spring religious festivals. The audience swayed back and forth in Eclectic around the pulsing, crackling hymns of the artist known as Matthewdavid, and were transfixed by the sound and drawn so subtly to whatever sonic altar he had erected there.