Matthew Wilcock, lead musician and sound designer for London based film, game and TV composition studio, Zelig Sound — a company that has produced music for clients as diverse as Jaguar, Nike, 3, Playstation and HBO — release his debut foray into the world of artistic music with his brilliantly beguiling Floating Metal Key EP, a powerful slice of abstract-yet-groovy, glitched out bass music.
Utilizing his audio manipulation skills like a medieval alchemist, Wilcock has created an utterly unique, alien sounding world, bursting with detail, lopsided, retrograde, machine funk grooves and a spot on ear for melody and harmony. As you would expect from someone who creates sounds and music for such an esteemed list of commercial clients, his sound design skills are second to none, with his warped, bruised tones – that truly shine – coming to the fore, tempered by moments of pastoral Aphex Twin style melodics, esoteric, ’80s-style synth pop and blissful harmonic treatments.
Working within the mid-tempo bpm bracket, Wilcock manages to channel the best that the experimental, electronica genre has come up with in the past, referencing people such as the aforementioned Aphex Twin, Autechre, Gescom and their ilk, but without ever sounding derivative or imitative. The brutal, heavily modulated bass lines coming across like the bastard offspring of Amon Tobin’s work post Out From Outwhere, with the tunes’ organic instrumentation juxtaposing with the techy sound design to great effect, giving the EP a lively, accessible and somewhat funky feel.
All of these themes and ideas are all combined with Wilcock’s home-cooked foley samples that enter the fray at pertinent points, breaking down the carefully constructed sonic shells that the tunes reside within, with bursts of abstract, real life reverbs providing some serious transportational ear candy for the listener.
Tunes such as opening number “Floating Metal Key” unite spot on foley sound design akin to some of the moments in Amon Tobin’s ISAM album, with organic sounding instrumentation — such as choral pads and twinkling vibraphone-esq melodics — and progressive arrangements that truly take you on an aural journey into the unknown.
“Brittle Metal Press” comes across like a cross like a glitched out Amon Tobin offcut, referencing Two Fingers not by direct assimilation but rather by using similar techniques, sound sources and a mutual love of ’90s hip-hop to get to approximately the same point as the revered Brazilian bricoleur. “Tokyo Snap” sees the producer explore experimental drone, based beatless atmospheres whereas “Battery Snap” explores free-flowing, jazz-influenced drum work and incidental sound that sounds a bit like a demented Zoon Von Snook at points. “Space Pedal Pace” combines ’80s sounding, stacked analogue arpeggios that could have been lifted from the Drive soundtrack, with electro drums creating a moving, affecting number without resorting to using the same ripping effects deployed throughout the course of his mini-LP.
My favorite number on the album is “Bent Dead”, a track that takes its time to find its feet but is all the more intriguing because of it. Layers of random foley are built up throughout the extended introduction, eventually sequencing themselves into a half-step, dubstep referencing danceable beat constructed out of all sort of odds and end, that lumbers and lurches in a delightfully drunken manner. The tune is more minimal that the others allowing the beguiling sound design to emotionally move the listener. Fascinating stuff.
The mini-LP finishes of with the funeral dirge that is “As I Lay Dying”, an apt title for the subdued, morose, piano and string laden epic that closes things off.
Wilcock has seemingly come out of nowhere as an almost fully formed artist, although this is less surprising when you read his production CV. However, although I really, really enjoyed this EP — it’s fascinating and varied in equal measures — I would like to see him refine his sound a bit and resist the temptation to stick more and more effected stuff into his mixes. For me, he is at his best when he allows his quite frankly, stunning sound design and foley work to breathe around his cobbled together beats and fluid arrangement style. But hey, this is his first artistic release, and with the skills he has in spades I see an extremely bright future for this precocious talent to explore.