Deco: Timescales

Timescales is one of the most immaculately produced albums one is likely to hear in 2013, as Los Angeles-based Matt Rosenzweig (aka Deco) shows repeatedly throughout this high-quality collection of wide-ranging bass music. As an arranger and soundsculptor, Rosenzweig impresses mightily on his debut Deco album (also the first full-length release on the Deceast label, which he founded in 2009), with each of the album's thirteen tracks showcasing a masterful sensitivity to layering, pacing, and sequencing. Originally a college radio DJ in Atlanta, Rosenzweig moved to LA in 2006 where he became a resident DJ for Insomniac before shifting his focus to the kind of studio production work that would eventually result in Timescales. Drawing upon influences like King Tubby, Deep Medi Musik, and Definitive Jux, Rosenzweig works hard at developing his Deco voice in the album's material.

“Skyline 3040” effectively establishes the album's widescreen style when it progressively assembles layers of synthetic sounds and loping beats into a panoramic portrait of some future urban paradise. Here and elsewhere, Rosenzweig builds the tracks into spacious soundscapes of varying stylistic character, whether it be dub, house, hip-hop, drum'n'bass—whatever the case. Throughout the hour-long set, voices, samples, drums, percussion, and keyboards swirl within luscious, dub-influenced mixes that grow in hypnotic effect as the sounds accumulate (consider “Aural Hygiene” a representative example of Timescales' inventive sound design). The Deco sound is often heavily downtempo-oriented, a detail never more clear than in the album's three deliciously loose hip-hop vignettes.

A particularly aromatic strain of dub is a recurring touchstone on the album, as evidenced by the twilight soul of “Late Night Fading” and the low-end dubstep of “Cali Trunk Rattle”; not surprisingly, “Trenchtown” makes the connection overt when Rosenzweig sprinkles the reverb-drenched mix with a Rastaman's murmur. Tracks like these do vary in style yet nonetheless draw upon a production sensibility heavily informed by dub (dubstep too), with echo and reverb applied liberally.

But as strong as the album is on purely sonic grounds and as engrossing it as a pure listening experience, it is lacking somewhat in the melodic department, with most cuts defining themselves more as moodscapes than melody-driven compositions. As alluring as the arrangement is of “At Most Sphere,” for example, it ultimately registers as a sultry groove only. Having said that, there's no question the typical Deco cut provides a powerfully atmospheric experience, as the martial snare rolls and growling bass lines in the bass-rattling title track demonstrate.

November 2013