INTERVIEW: Matthew Jameson | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Accumulated over a five-year span, Matthew Jameson’s catalogue of diverse, riveting electronic music has already digested a wide smorgasbord of influences. In many ways, however, its latest entry marks a break from its predecessors, being a product of both nostalgia and a fervent deep-dive triggered by circumstance.

“After Daft Punk broke up last year, I delved back into their discography – I’d been into them when I was younger, and their first album Homework really hit home for me,” the Sunderland artist (and sometime Yes Plant frontman) reveals. “From there, I discovered earlier projects that Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo had been involved with – Together and Le Knight Club – as well as other artists on the label Roulé.”

Emerging from the rabbit hole, Jameson set about channelling this infatuation into a creative venture of his own; a passionate homage to the French house sound presented in the form of his latest record, This Side Down: “I really like how the genre utilises repetition, pumping compression, filters and samples to create super lively recordings. I set out to make something which had that same French house feel, whilst also being new and distinctly mine.”

I feel that distortion and saturation are useful tools for expression, which is really important for instrumental music. Nobody is perfect, so why should my recordings be?

Certainly, this seven-track effort – Jameson’s sixth full-length, arriving less than eight months on from his last, Mercy of Memory – skilfully swerves the pitfalls of imitation and pastiche to which many similarly indebted projects succumb. Warm and familiar, but never to the point of distraction, its 44 minutes make for a dynamic, engrossing listening experience, primed for genre connoisseurs and more casual listeners alike.

Though its sonic touchstones are self-evident, This Side Down also holds the distinction of being the first record Jameson approached without an overarching concept: “I wanted to focus more on sounds and textures, as well as technical aspects such as mixing, compression and EQ instead of track or album structure,” he recalls. “In the past, I think I’ve focused too much on coming up with concepts for projects, to make up for the fact I make instrumental music. Throwing that out the window and just going for what felt right was very liberating, and a valuable learning experience.”

Freed from his self-imposed shackles, Jameson set about indulging further still, employing the films of Éric Rohmer and François Truffaut as visual references, and even sourcing indirect influence from the North East’s thriving post-punk and hardcore electro scenes. Crucially, he was equally unafraid to wear and repurpose hallmarks from his own discography – notably 2019’s NOT THIS, a radically different collection, yet one whose distorted fingerprints are evident throughout.

“The techniques I used for that album were really fun to work with, and I gained a real appreciation for saturating signals and making lo-fi recordings,” he states. “I feel that distortion and saturation are useful tools for expression, which is really important for instrumental music. Nobody is perfect, so why should my recordings be? I also revisited similar timbres and styles to those of [2019 EP] The Second

Dimension, where I explored high tempo techno for the first time.”
With greater experience, perspective and an ever-widening raft of tools at his disposal, the final product makes for compelling listening – an absorbing addition to what’s quietly become one of the region’s most prolific electronic catalogues.

Matthew Jameson releases This Side Down on Friday 29th July.

 

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