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Matthias Zimmermann’s debut album is here.

June 9th, 2016
by Emile Shahidi

Exactly 5 years ago—on June 10th 2011—Matthias sent us four tracks on the e-mail address we had set up to receive demos from artists :

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Those four tracks “KARL”, “LUTHER”, “FEZ” and “OLGA” (later arranged in such an order to spell K.L.F and L.F.O) weren’t demos, they were four perfect tracks we offered to release without suggesting a single change, and that’s how the “ISLA DUB” EP was born. These were the foundations of Matthias’ universe.

Then one month later, Zimmermann had a bigger idea:

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Since the beginning his plan was to create a virtual world inhabited by characters with different personalities and each track of his would bear the name of one of those characters. All these avatars would become inhabitants of an island he imagined, and which would constitute the body of the album. We didn’t want to go into details about all of this until now, because convoluted narratives should never get in the way of great music and people needed to see Matthias as a composer of excellent tracks before they saw him as a creator of concepts.

Still, exactly 5 years later, we are sticking to the plan: the Island is here, the Second Life / Miiverse – like ecosystem that exists in Matthias’ mind now has some sort of atlas, some sort of history book in the form of an eponymous album and it sounds glorious. The inhabitants of the album/ island have common traits, their sonic design is similar, as if Matthias had dressed them by choosing elements from a restricted sound palette defined by him. But they also have different personalities and convey different emotions. Matthias explores different styles while maintaining coherence just as he creates avatars from a common mold, living in the same community but with sometimes divergent, sometimes complementary characteristics as well as different functions.

Matthias Zimmermann album cover

In the 5 years it took for the album to exist some of these tracks had the time to grow and have a life of their own. For example it’s impressive to witness how Luther, already present in Matthias’s first EP, hasn’t aged, and how he has given birth to several generations of musical children and grandchildren, some of which found their way on the album. “EUGENE” is related to “FEZ”, “ANDEO” could be a cousin of “VINCENTE”… “BASTIAN” gave birth to “LIA”, giving her vocals by Jay-Jay Johanson in the process. “MARTIN” also evolved into a vocal track featuring Olivia Merilahti from The Dø, whilst keeping his musical code intact.

Only someone like Matthias Zimmermann, an artist from Wiesbaden, a relatively small city in Germany away from the two big musical poles of attraction that are Berlin and Paris, could imagine an island where human-shaped tracks flourish in an almost botanical way, evolving like ivy as they react to their surroundings using some sort of artificial intelligence programmed by the artist himself.
Track listing:

  1. Curtis
  2. Eugene
  3. Martin (feat. Olivia Merilahti)
  4. Jordan
  5. Donoma (with SCNTST)
  6. Elbo (feat. DVNO)
  7. Una
  8. Neil
  9. Cassy
  10. Andeo
  11. Lia
  12. David
  13. Luther
  14. Rose
  15. Lucienne (feat. Sara Schiralli)
  16. Daiki
  17. Bonus track: Jason (only on the vinyl edition)

Matthias Zimmermann’s album, track-by-track:

CURTIS be like: “I’m a saxophone-melodica duet trying to play in the middle of a synthetic tempest, , the perfect way to suggest the multitude of things to come, i’m a great intro.”

EUGENE be like: “I’m a slow-paced boogie number with a weird futuristic musak solo in the middle, building towards a gentle siren announcing some sweet jungle party vibes.”

MARTIN be like: “I’m a sweet banger built for lascive dancefloor action around the sublime voice of Olivia from The Dø. A sugar rush for summer crepuscules which starts cynical and ends optimistic.”

JORDAN be like: “I’m a bouncy house tune with warm textures and chopped-up bits and bobs. A musical slinky climbing up some stairs that are in fact a giant xylophone.”

DONOMA be like: “I’m a tropical techno rain shower in the morning, co-created by SCNTST. I’m also perfect for nocturnal car rides around the city when the little lights issuing from the buildings seem to form a symphony.”

ELBO be like: “I’m a quasi-funk song sang by human bird of paradise
DVNO, full of percussions and whistles, putting the act of dancing back in the center of the conversation.”

UNA be like: “I’m a piece of uplifting cosmic disco created with notions of togetherness and collectivity in mind, rolling towards a cosy form of euphoria.”

NEIL be like: “I’m a steady grainy lo-fi techno build up made to enhance every DJ’s warm up (or cool down) set by 500%. Outside of the club context i’m also a great melodic meditation piece.”

CASSY be like: “I feature Montreal’s dreamiest secret Marouann on the vocals! I’m a grown and sexy r&b tune with an electronic boogie twist. I’m a whisper in your ear inviting you to dance while you sip on a Martini.”

ANDEO be like: “I’m an overly emotional party on the beach with lots of crabs and starfishes dancing while wondering what their future will look like.”

LIA be like: “Absolute Scandinavian pop legend Jay-Jay Johanson sings me. I’m an aquatic ballad about love games, drowned in gentle light and playful synths.”

DAVID be like: “I’m like a short, sweet prequel to Luther meant to introduce it.”

LUTHER be like: “I’m the O.G of all OG Matthias Zimmerman tracks, which was present on his first EP and which alternates between pachydermous drums, buzzing insect noises and infectious uplifting melodies”

ROSE be like: “I’m a beautiful ambient piece gorged with reverb like an infinity of mirrors distorting reality until it becomes abstract”

LUCIENNE be like: “I’m a deliciously weird drone- infused pop song featuring Sara Schiralli on the vocals. I’m a dream of a mysterious silhouette wearing a yellow swimsuit, whose wet footprints vanish instantly on the wood of a pontoon.”

DAIKI be like: “I’m a late night early morning techno grand finale carried by implacable slow-burning hands-in-the-air synth waves. Say goodbye to me now… you are forever in my heart.”

Artwork by Atelier Malinowsky, with Sebastien Michelini.

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