The sound of the Roland TR-808 is unmistakable. It gave a generation of artists a voice when it offered them the opportunity to create music with little or no musical background, becoming one of the most important instruments ever created in the history of music let alone electronic music. The timbre of its hollow kick and toms along with its bright high-hats and heavily compressed snare is the first thing that greets you on Matrixxman’s sophomore effort for Soo Wavey, – a label he co-owns – The XX Files Part 2.
As the name suggests it’s a follow up to his debut and it offers much of the same ingredients. Built up from the same minimalist approach, the 808 takes centre stage on each track, while starkly different elements make up the harmonic- and melodic moments. On opener Soul M8, this intermittently takes the form of an 80’s inspired synth jam (which could be a sample) that only distracts from the underlying beat for mere moments. There’s a clear focus on getting a crowd moving throughout the XX files, Part 2 and sometimes it does forego some much needed development in favour of keeping a steady beat. This does get especially tedious on the Vin Sol collaborated track, Holographic, which features a bass hook that seems to repeat indefinitely. It will no doubt work well on a dancefloor as a filler track, but the lack of progression is too obvious to ignore here.
Jane Doe however is a standout track and I made sure to highlight this in my playlist on the first listen already. Here the development is more noticeable, but it still doesn’t take anything away from the minimalist aesthetic that Matrixxman enjoys. The 808 still very much the main character here, there is a nice little 303-like synth warble that comes and goes sporadically as the drum machine runs its course through a variety of sequences. It’s Artificial Intelligence that stays with me, after all is said and done. The sub bass element brings the 808 squarely into the present while filter-modulating synth takes the main focus away from the heretofore-dominant 808 for a change.
It’s is still an EP that re-affirms the classic module’s popularity for 2014, and at times its dominance can become somewhat stagnant. Matrixxman nonetheless wields the instrument in a manner that is concurrent with current dance floor protocol and as a result he stands out amongst his peers as an artist to look out for in the coming future. It was no surprise that in a recent interview with Breach, the producer named Matrixxman as one of the artists that are regularly making appearances in his sets. I especially look forward to his coming release for Ultramajic’s Metaphix series.