Manchester raised and London based producer, Model 86, returns this week with his second EP, When You Realise People Are Not One Dimensional Characters In A Movie Of Your Life.
Matthew James Wilcock emerged in 2015 with his debut release Self Help Dance, a record brimming with ideas and experimentation, which pushed the boundaries of electronic music whilst paying tribute to the influences of modern jazz, hip hop and R&B. The EP did, however, suffer at times from the sense that it was a number of great ideas that were not always fully explored.
When You Realise… retains much of that sonic experimentation, with Wilcock continuing to unsettle and entrance. However, the soundscape on this record is broader, the range of instrumentation greater and the structure of the tracks more developed. There is also increased sampling from Wilcock’s vast collection of vinyl, with those samples cut up and fused together, transforming the source material beyond recognition.
Opener ‘Holdin’’ uses pitched vocals, chopped and screwed over clattering hip hop drums, mellow keys and synths that range from stuttering to thumping, clashing and complementing in equal measure. It sets the tone for a kaleidoscopic release, full of wonderful textures and sounds that has the ability to evoke a real sense of atmosphere and emotion.
The sound of flutes open ‘Mono’, a song bubbling with intensity as the layers of the track build with crashing symbols and growling bass added to the mix. This then breaks down into softer, calmer piano work, complemented by bluesy guitar playing and sampled vocals before returning again to the frenetic drums and flutes. These repeated rises and falls in the track perfectly demonstrate the increased focus on song structuring and development that is apparent across the EP.
‘Need 808’ is driven by a melody that brings to mind a 90’s 8-bit gaming soundtrack, and samples Next’s ‘Butta Love’. Wilcock combines these otherwise contrasting sounds with his trademark glitchy production style, as he continues to confound and impress with the sound combinations he pursues. Drawing comparisons with Wilcock’s work is as a result difficult. Sampling luminary DJ Shadow is an obvious option, although the dark eccentricity of Flying Lotus alongside Hudson Mohawke and Nosaj Thing are arguably closer in sound and style. However, at the core of Model 86’s work has always been big, hip-hop inspired beats. ‘Fake Life Jackets’ is no different with its dusty drum beat sounding like a homage to 90’s New York.
Over the course of the EP’s five tracks, pitched vocals and jittering percussion dominate, even more so than in Self Help Dance, and the stuttering, glitchy production can be almost dizzying. How this will translate to and evolve across a full length release is unclear at this stage. However the depth of sound shown across this record is promising. Closing track ‘Fallin Dust And Snow In A Ray Of Sun’, for example, explores down-tempo melodies devoid of drums, with cracking vinyl bringing acoustic guitars and affecting vocals in and out of the mix, in distinct contrast with all that preceded it.
Experimental and unconventional, When You Realise… is a bewildering listen at times but it is also exciting to hear the work of a creative mind not confined to any sound or style, challenging the expectations of modern electronica. When You Realise People Are Not One Dimensional Characters In A Movie Of Your Life is released July 8th and available to pre-order here.
Words: William Sutton