Review by Kent Manthie
The latest CD from Matthew conley is just out and it is a 5-song EP entitled Help Yourself. What we got here is a flavorful instrumental electronica batch of silky, spaced-out textures. A sort of sonic spacewalk.
It’s too bad that the CD ends after only 5 songs. Just when you start digging it, it’s already over. But if you are feeling edgy or stressed out, this 20 minute escapade will do the trick, bring you to a higher dimension. It starts out with the title track, one that has a sexy, feverish slickness to it. Not a fast, bump-and-grind dance track, but a slow, mesmerizing jaunt that gets your feet wet and sets up the mood. Then “Blowback” keeps it going, with a bigger emphasis on the beats.
This is definitely DJ music, something that would be good to throw on at your favorite club, downtown. Listening to Help Yourself, I can just imagine the kind of creative remixing that a good DJ could do with it. “The Hierarchy” has this sound, this feel to it that evokes images of an urban streetscape, late at night, when there’s no one around. If you’ve ever walked around downtown L.A. after 9 or 10 PM, you’ll know what I mean. Around, say, 5th and Los Angeles Ave there are a few cars parked on the street, but the whole neighborhood is deserted. It gives one this sense of walking around an empty movie set, made up to look like a street scene. That’s what “The Hierarchy” makes me think of. It’s also a lovely tune, with sampled strings, horns and an echoing vibe that completes it. “Emerge” picks up where “The Hierarchy” leaves off and starts to bring things back to life a little. Like, when you’re walking these deserted streets and you suddenly come across a few people, on their way to or from some event. It’s got a wicked keyboard hustle to it. Funky. It’s jumping all over the place. But keeping a steady rhythm in the background with a blissed-out techno jam.
We end our little excursion with “Drone VI”, a suitable title and a fitting way to take us out. “Drone VI” slithers and shimmies; all synthesizers, it has a number of different programmed sounds that pick you up, as on an angel’s back and flies you through the night sky, dropping you off in your bed. It’s only 3 minutes, but it’s very lovely.
Like I wrote earlier, I wish there was more to Help Yourself than just five songs. Conley could’ve gone on for another hour, like this. Anyway, here’s hoping that we’ll get that opportunity when he makes his next CD. I hope this was just a sort of “trial balloon” that he floated to see what sort of reaction he’d get. Well, from here, it does seem to have life. So, yes, it was worth it and there should be more.