Hot off the back of his esteemed Kic 8462852 EP, that features an exclusive remix from Detroit techno legends Octave One, Mat Playford marks a return to Awesome Soundwave with Solar, a powerful and moving LP made up of ten original tracks.
From its conception, Solar has been a project that has been held deep in Mat Playford’s heart. Having begun producing the LP at the end of 2016, in Mat’s own words it has been: “a long journey this project” but one that has resulted in a standout album on Carl Cox and Christopher Coe’s Awesome Soundwave imprint.
The story behind the LP is arguably as interesting – and impressive – as the album itself. The story behind the LP is arguably as interesting – and impressive – as the album itself. Inspired by composer and dear friend Steve ‘Bertie’ Burton, whom he first met more than fifteen years ago, Bertie assisted Mat with the composition process, particularly the string arrangements which are a staple of the album. On top of this, Mat’s studio, where he collected and stored all of the synths used to create the records, is powered by solar panels. Such a feat demonstrates a hard-working ethic as well as impressive technical talent, but this is taken to the next level. The excess power produced by the solar panels is “sold back to the national grid”, something Mat has been undertaking for “nearly ten years”.
This engineering marvel is surprising and outstandingly impressive, but it is Mat’s attention to detail and dedication to this cause that is ever-more inspiring. Mat went to the lengths of “rebuilding his studio” so that he was standing up when recording the tracks. This is because it “was a live project, so (he) wanted to record them in the same posture (he) would perform them live”. The incredible factor in this instance is that the table Mat used to record the synths is carved “out of a tree that came down in 2015” and the end product “took three months worth of sanding and varnishing”.
Celestial Mechanic is an ethereal slow moving piece that features chiming synths and echoing drum patterns. Lucid Crossrhodes ups the tempo, as a punchy kick is moved along by rustling hi-hats and a whirring flute-like sound. Ephermis is a funky acid cut, where space like bloops merge with a rolling up-and-down bassline. Almagest is another space-like voyage, as subtle hats and soft pads are complemented by an echoing synth.
Ptolmey strips things back, where a driving kick is touched by a hollow, bouncing beep before the stark Kic 8462852 ratchets up the pace with a no-holds-barred reverberating synth-filled bassline. 3 Free Body Problem begins with moving, orbit like chords which soon give way to a bloopy piano roll and resonant percussion.
Nymphaeum is a driving cut that features an alien-like bassline and chiming bells before Tomorrows World slows down the pace with pulses of acid and an up-and-down synth to form an emotional, moving number. Finally, the end track, Last Perihelion, rounds off the album, as soft synth stabs coincide with chiming piano rolls to complete this voyage in a moving and emotional manner.
Having moved to the South Coast of England in 2011, Mat Playford’s career in electronic music is a story to behold. From owning a record shop in Leeds to holding a residency at Space Ibiza for seven years, it is in recent times that Mat’s passion for solar power has come to fruition, where he uses this to cultivate and grow his own chilli farm, as well as powering his studio.
Label: Awesome Soundwave | Released: 5th July 2019 | Distribution: Xelon | Cat no: ASWR07
01. Celestial Mechanic
02. Lucid Crossrhodes
06. Kic 8462852
07. 3 Free Body Problem
09. Tomorrows World
10. Last Perihelion