Agents of Time
Since first alighting on the international techno scene nearly a decade ago, Canadian producer Mathew Jonson has risen to unparalleled heights by way of a monstrous virtuosity that sets him apart from most of the dime-a-dozen producers out there. A technical purist of almost pedantic proportions, Jonson insists on the superior albeit subtle sonic qualities of analog production and recording, in a day and age when computers and software suffice for most EDM producers.
As anyone who witnessed his epic performance at the Electric Pickle last year can attest, this is a man who hauls a 32-channel mixing desk along with a hefty arsenal of hardware to every gig, because that's how much the nuances of sound matter to him.
It's no surprise then that Jonson's first full-length album Agents of Time is first and foremost an exercise in masterful analog studio production. The incomparably rich and supple quality of the instruments and recording is apparent right away and, if for no better reason, distinguishes the record from 90% of the EDM releases you'll hear this year. However, fans of Jonson's intensely energetic and jacking live techno sets may be disappointed by the mostly ambient downtempo compositions in this album, which rarely go over the 100 bpm mark.
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Tracks like "Love In The Future" and "Night Vision" offer Jonson's idiosyncratically eerie and moody synth melodies over ethereal atmospheric backdrops and delicately pulsating beats. He kicks up the tempo a notch on "Girls Got Rhythm" and "Thieves In Digital Land", both chunky-funky bassline-driven numbers. "Sunday Disco Romance" is almost comical retro-futurist Italo Disco.
Fans of Jonson's 2005 masterpiece "Marionette", with its unforgettably dreamy and sinister melodic riff, may be pleased to find the album's inclusion of "Marionette (The Beggining)" a somewhat gentler variation or prequel, as it were, on the theme. "When Love Feels Like Crying" is also akin stylistically to the darkly emotional melodic techno of "Marionette", and title-track "Agents of Time" takes the moody atmospherics to even deeper depths with its dark abstract textures and minor-key synth stabs.
It's hard to name any standout track in this collection, which can seem rather impenetrable on a first listen, but that only goes to show what we already know -- Mr. Jonson does not cater to instantly-gratifying musical appetites. Take this album home and take the time to get to know it, because it has enough complexity for a lifetime of listening.