Matthew Daher: Dwelling Lightheartedly In The Futility Of Everything
Matthew Daher Bandcamp

Matthew Daher's Dwelling Lightheartedly In The Futility Of Everything is in certain respects emblematic of the type of material that's becoming increasingly common in electronic music production circles, specifically in the way it eludes easy categorization. The five pieces on the self-released EP retain some vestigial connection to conventional song structure yet also are experimental in nature and don't adhere to strict verse-chorus patterns. Conventional elements such as vocals, vibes, and drums appear, but they do so alongside any number of sounds whose identity the Detroit-based producer, drummer, and McGill University graduate has obscured using electronic means. In short, it's explorative electroacoustic material that's very reflective of a contemporary sensibility in the way it weaves elements of electronica, jazz, hip-hop, and post-rock into its multi-hued fabric.

The thirty-three-minute release gets underway with a wonky bit of vocal-based business called “Shift (Manifesto)” wherein a rather robotic vocal delivery segues into a future-funk episode animated by the drummer's clattering groove and vibes. Traces of noise, dissonance, and mutant jazz seep into the setting's labyrinthine structure, the sum-total of which amounts to an arresting listening experience fraught with anxiety and tinged with claustrophobia. Elsewhere, “Heartbreak Champion” showcases Daher's deft ability to blend electronic elements and acoustic instruments into a seamless whole, and does so in such a way that the lines separating acoustic jazz and instrumental hip-hop are effectively blurred, while the aromatic headnodder “Drip Drown,” with Simon Millerd's jazzy trumpet textures added to the mix, resurrects the trippy vibe of the opener for another stab at cosmic beatsmithing.

While the EP's on the whole compelling, its best moment, “Hanging Over Hanging On,” is a bonafide stunner, a nine-minute foray into electronic soul balladry that receives more than a small boost from the vocal performance of Emma Frank (who also co-wrote the song with Daher) and the silken shimmer of a string quartet. Daher smartly dials down the intensity on the piece (as he also does on the elegantly understated closer “Cyclicity” featuring vocalist Corinna Rose), a move that allows Frank's sultry singing to entrance all the more powerfully. Put simply, anyone wishing to make an argument on Daher's behalf as a composer and sound designer of exceptional promise and sensitivity need look no further than “Hanging Over Hanging On.” Daher cites “gnostic curiosity” as a driving force for his creative endeavors and practices, something amply illustrated by Dwelling Lightheartedly In The Futility Of Everything.

May 2015