Article Review by Alex Muñoz
MATTER ROOM is an experimental/post rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Their compositions come from the mind of Ryden Mathieu (guitar, vocals, piano, baritone guitar, pliers) and are supported by Miles Knight (guitar), Julian Montano (bass), and Luis Ho (drums). The sounds are twisted, gloomy, emotionally driven, and radiating with dark and dystopian imagery (seriously, some of it is almost nightmare inducing). They have been active for around two years now and have released several rough demos on the Bandcamp website for the past year, including an official single.Past Where They Drain Them… is their debut full length release on Penniback Records.
“Intro” is the perfect song to kickstart your day in nightmare-ville. This track creeps up on you from deep in the recesses of your brain and throws you straight into the void, riddled with the sense of tragedy. It is like you are standing on the moon witnessing a meteor crashing into earth. The black metal influences are very apparent here in the production quality, how distant the drums sound, and how dissonant the guitar tone is. Welcome to their world.
“Ilbis” is a definite fan favorite. As an instrumental track, it starts off with a chill, clean, arpeggiated guitar riff, it is reminiscent of an innocent and carefree life. It submerges suddenly into an ocean of reverb soaked distortion, possibly representing sadness, betrayal, and tragedy. The wall of noise is then accompanied by a tense build up, and released into more distorted chaos. This can be a very peaceful track to either ponder in life’s decisions or let all those bottled up emotions out.
“Pleased” tells a gruesome story of a son recollecting his schizophrenic mother’s self-inflicted death via stepping into a fire. This track’s instrumentation during the verses are clean and spacey, and the choruses are loud, disturbing, and abrasive, mimicking a confused person going back and forth between ideas and emotions in their mind. As the story goes on, the instrumentation gets more intense and falls deeper into the twisted madness of the narrator. When it comes to the end of the lyrical delivery, the narrator faces his fears, and, evidently, faces the fire.
“Nocturnes” is a monster of a composition, clocking in at 10 minutes. This piece is greatly inspired by the classical works of Villa Lobos (“Etude no. 11”), Franz Liszt (“Hungarian Rhapsody”), and Claude Debussy (“Nocturnes”). It evokes the night, darkness, and a very large, otherworldly presence. After the intro of quiet, classical-esque chord strumming, it hits you with a wall of paranoid distortion swinging back and forth with an unsettling conclusion of more quiet strumming. The guitar ambience in the background provides space, isolating the tension build up in the lead guitarist’s notes, bringing it to the peak of human existence, reaching a point of no turning back, then falling right into the pit of noise, emotion, and pure driving force that feels like something that is not of this realm. But you survive, and the journey goes on. Right when you thought it was all over, the wall of noise hits you for the final time, with tones that somewhat sound like distant cries and screams coming from an abyss.
The next track “My Friend” begins immediately. This track is narrated by a man describing his own mental illness as his companion. It is dormant and restless, causing him to lose meaning in everything. With its tightly-knit chord progression creeping along, the whole track creates a very villainous, wicked feeling.
“Special Thoughts” is another fan favorite. The track starts us off with a catchy bassline and danceable drum beat that will get stuck in your head for days. It then goes into a tense buildup, that results in utter chaos with a riff that makes the listener feel like they are being yanked and torn apart limb from limb by a large animal.
“Dolor” captivates interest instantly with a slow, creepy, arpeggiated guitar riff from hell. Winding spiral staircases, dark forest roads, and old paint-chipped marionette puppets with tangled strings are brought life along the track’s duration. The structure of the song is brilliant, the bass work is frantic and spot on, and some of the guitar work is very reminiscent of old Italian classical guitar picking. The lyrical subject of this track, however, is political: the over-consumerism of modern society; humans consume all of earth’s resources, demand more, and give nothing back.
“Beksin” starts off with plucked guitar harmonics matched with the subtle hit of the drums. The composition then goes into a build up, led by an eerie bass/baritone guitar riff sounding like you are frantically walking up a never ending flight of stairs on the side of a burning Mayan temple. The title of the song is based on the name of the dystopian surrealist painter Zdzislaw Beksinski, whose imagery has been stated by frontman Ryden Mathieu as being an inspiration for the track, as well as overall creative inspiration.
Beginning with a sample of a talking piano, “We Are All Responsible” goes right into a hard hitting industrial beat. The cyber punk segment of the track then fades into a cesspool of echos, tape hiss, creaks, croaks, and incredibly eerie distant cries. The sounds almost represent a runned down factory or foundry, filled with wandering spirits or maybe decaying bodies, much like the front cover of the album. It seamlessly introduces the piano chords for the next track.
“Educators, Politicians, Social Organizations” is a well-crafted piano composition that transitions into the full band giving it their all to close out the album. This track is gloomy, laced with samples of news reports, police radio chatter, and background whispers. It produces heavy imagery of how humans are destroying ourselves and the earth, and promoting hate and violence. It produces such a strong feeling of frustration and a loss of faith. The way the samples of voices fades into nature sounds also gives it a peaceful feeling, as if we will be better off if we go back to living simpler lifestyles much like our ancestors. Obviously there can be many ways to look at this track, that’s what makes it a quality composition.
Past Where They Drain Them… is a force to be reckoned with in the Los Angeles underground scene. Truly talented musicians coupled with lots of time and effort make it a success. This album was recorded and mixed at their headquarters by Ryden Mathieu, and the release show was held there as well. I’ve known Ryden, Miles, Julian, and Luis for many years and I am looking forward to the next release which they have already been brainstorming for. The album is now available on Spotify, Bandcamp, and iTunes!
Alex Muñoz is 19 years old and lives in Los Angeles. See his other work for Tunnel here.