While Mat Zo has been a familiar name on the scene for a while now, his reputation as a trance producer doesn’t tell the whole story. While the majority of his material on Anjunabeats has been trance–albeit often in new and interesting forms–when “Mat Zo” was in his infancy, Matan Zohar was also working under the MRSA alias, releasing liquid DnB on Hospital, another label that is a legend in its own genre. In the years that have followed, Mr Zo has proven himself as not only extremely talented, but also one of the more diverse producers on the scene. Now, the full majesty of the man’s musical prowess is finally on display, in the form of his debut artist album Damage Control.
The album starts off promisingly with a new version of 2011 track Superman. It’s an acoustic piece, with guitars, an “ethnic” vocal, some deep strings, and a subtle synth pluck. Much like everything that follows, this is familiar, but at the same time very different. There’s that ever blurred line between trance and house with Only For You, Lucid Dreams and recent hits Easy and Chuck D collaboration Pyramid Scheme. But things get more interesting as the genres become more varied. There’s some trap in Caller ID, experimental breaks in Little Damage as well as some massive nostalgia trips. Like It Used To Be is straight outta Compton circa 1988, while penultimate track Hurricane is a modern take on UK garage, as is EZ–the original version of Easy. That said, such tags are close approximations, because the reality doesn’t quite match the description. You can hear the influence, but it never even approaches imitation. Flattery is perhaps the best term, but even then, this is Mat’s own style through and through.
Damage Control is out now, and is clearly the work of a man who not only loves music, but also loves creating it. There’s been absolutely no brief here, possibly aside from “go and do whatever you want”–something that is always welcome. The result isn’t just a great collection of tracks, it’s a lesson in why a musician should just get on with doing what they want, never allowing trends or genre tags to get in the way.