There are a few producers who got big making music in the EDM era that was adjacent to the serotonin rush of that period, while always seeming more authentic than the rest. Mat Zo was one of them. Flipping around between trance, drum and bass, stadium sized progressive and a bit of electro, it was always hard to pin down Zo and that was what he wanted. Being predictable puts you in a box for fans, jabronies like me and the wider industry. His early work on Anjunabeats established him as one of the hottest talents in trance music, but he broke out of that shell with his 2013 album Damage Control. That spell was broken again with the gritty Self Assemble that dug into drum and bass and electro. Now four years later he is back with a new album Illusion Of Depth.
Mat Zo delivers a bit of everything with this album. In a statement, he says that this album wanted to be more cohesive and tempo-wise it is, but sonically, he can’t help but jump from electro, to soaring trance to a bit of house and funk. It is designed to be a little rough on the edges and less clean than a lot of dance music that sounds too polished or posh.
“I started working on Illusion of Depth because I wanted to make a body of work that was cohesive. I’m usually known for being all over the place, but I wanted to make an album that had unifying qualities. In this case, partly it’s the tempo. Everything on the album is in the 124-128 bpm range, but within that constraint, I still managed to be all over the place stylistically,” explains Zo.
“There’s also a lot more live/non-digital elements on this album than my previous work. I was getting really tired of how clean everything is in this corner of dance music. Above all else, I wanted to make an album with grit, texture, and attitude. I wanted to make a fuck you statement to the safe, sugary, fluffy world of a post-EDM trance,” Zo says
There is plenty that fans new and old will live. “Love Songs” a bit of the classic Anjunabeats sound from the late 2000's. They will soar even more with “Petrushka” with its classic sounding trance melodies and low rumbling bass lines. “Bruxism” delivers on the twisted electro that would crunch faces and move a crowd if those still could happen.
“Dangerous Feeling” is the sort of melodic house music that bridges funk, a touch of flickering trance and deep bass music into one track for a true rarity. “Colours” brings things back to Damage Control-era Mat Zo with the searing synth lines, a funky bass line and a vocal from Olan that fits just right.
It ends with the mellower “Paralysis” and “Begin Again” to bring the listener back down to earth. Mat Zo delivers again on another album that feels a little scatter shot, but cohesive enough to fit together in an LP format. It jumps between styles, eras and different sonic influences, while still remaining something true to what Zo has been doing over his career.
Listen to the full record now and get it here.