Steering us into the new year is John Matrix and his debut Penitent Man EP which sees Manchester deliver yet again another promising artist for the Inna Riddim roster. We’ve requested his trademark sub-heavy, deep, menacing and minimal Dubstep styling for this first foray but his repertoire stretches back over ten years of music production through Drum & Bass and Dubstep, from early days on Manchester’s Unity Radio through to his residency with Deadbeats Collective.
‘Ain’t Changing’ opens with a defiant vocal sample front and centre over a rhythmic buzz, tightly suppressed by a high pass filter. Then the filter’s snapped away to reveal a loosely-slung bassline dragging slightly behind the beats, with two snares superimposed and craftily set a fraction of a second off each other’s tempo. In the quiet moments—and in the crisp, tight, delayed hihats—there’s a taste of the moodiness to come later in the EP; but this one’s all about its lurching, arrhythmic bravado.
‘Penitent Man’ harks back to the original promise of dubstep: the potency of gaps between beats, of interior rhythms suggested by percussion and delay, of space in the frequency spectrum, of the unfolding of time in a hydroponic haze. A growling bassline sets the pace for a sub-reinforced kick and an initial wet-sand snare that gives way to an alternating pair: one sharp and tight, the other open and reverberating. A perfect riposte to the question ‘is anyone still making proper dubstep?’
In ‘Hunter’, John strips the elements back to the essentials: a kick, a snare and some judiciously deployed samples. A decayed synth sweeps back and forth, while a menacing vocal snippet sets the scene for sci-fi dystopia, and there’s a blunted bass stab just before the down-beat that propels you forward like an alien cattle-prod. It’s spacious and claustrophobic at the same time, as if the open sky is teeming with extra-terrestrial threats.
‘Blissfully Unaware’ closes out the EP on a different note. John’s tonal palette here extends beyond the shadowy mood of the other tracks, and into a brighter, more optimistic register. The beat is more sprightly, too, doubling down on the kicks while percussion and rhythmic effects on the off-beat shift things up from one moment to the next. Angelic filter-suffused vocal samples drift through with a wordless promise, and there’s a hint of serene yet elegiac melancholy that gives this tune its richness and depth.
You can listen to clips of the tracks in the player below. The ‘buy’ link will take you straight to Beatport but feel free to grab it from your preferred digital retailer, or why not head to our custom shop (shop.innariddim.com) where every purchase means more money in the pocket of the artist!