Album Reviews

Album Review: ACADEMIA_

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Under the confidently capitalized title ACADEMIA_, Columbia-based producer/EDM artist Tyler Matthews crafts baby-smooth electronic climes with a similarly absolute, and well-justified, confidence. With drum-tight production, the innocuous tones and clean, sure rhythms of his seven-track debut release are wielded with a pleasant finesse.

Never daring to approach the EDM pitfall of repetition until the tracks have reached their ideal groove, his compositions are spotless and sexy, ready to stream comfortably from beginning to finish out of any speaker for any relaxed occasion. Essentially, ACADEMIA_ is the newest chillwave ear massage to come out of Columbia, and Matthews delivers with peaceable, dreamy certainty.

Dreams, the ever-deep well of inspiration for the most uninhibited art, are an unmistakeable influence on Matthews- though these dreams are of the delicate, more buoyant variety.

“The dream imagery comes from a state of mind that I’ve been in for a while now. When your ambitions become abstract or your goals in life become unclear, things get foggy. So lately my thoughts and my mind have had free reign and time seems to stand still, but in reality, the days are flying by.”

In this case, though, his fluffy synth-pads and lofty melodies seem to line the coats of the electric sheep dreamed of by the android that lends its curious lilting voice on many of the tracks. The songs breathe like an inorganic organism, and though there is a certain space allotted to the instruments, they all sport a punchiness that would bring a dance floor to an equally autonomous life.

My favorite weapon in his arsenal is his use of vocals much like that of an instrument. Bent and tweaked to weave through these synthscapes with calculated grace, envelopes and filters cooly match the enigmatic lyrics with the established groove. Particularly in Like a Dream, the soft vocals are accompanied by a pleasantly mechanical choir of voices that function like an additional synth tone.

One of the more head-bop conducive tracks on the album is Laramie, a send-up to the Wyoming town where he spent his childhood. With a dollop of nostalgia, the vistas and love he sings of seem to be sonically framed by that day-time television flashback blur.

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ACADEMIA_’s Tyler Matthews

“It’s basically the place where my brain turned on and my first memories were made. Fast-forward 20 years: when you’re in your mid-twenties and becoming an independent adult – it kind of sucks, and so that first stage of life really has an extra dreamy glow to it. I just remember seeing the mountains and thinking Laramie must be Heaven. Eventually finding out that Wyoming is one of the most irrelevant places on the planet was inevitable…. but to me it represents my childhood and those memories are a place of solace.”

The precise and diamond-solid production is due in thanks to Mason Youngblood, or Callosum, who met Matthews through soundcloud. Youngblood’s project was also recently reviewed, praised for its production quality. Featured vocally on Made Me See, he brings his expertise to meet Matthew’s dreamy vision, and the result is exciting for the future of Columbia’s electronic music scene. Especially considering their collective, headed by Youngblood, the Moas Collective, a group of electronic music producers and DJ’s based here in Columbia, the scene has a lustrous, synth-laden future.

According to Matthews, the best way to ingest his music is with headphones, closed eyes and a spotless mind. Don’t worry, you won’t slip off into your own dreams- not if it’s turned up to the proper volume level.

 

PS. We don’t condone self-inflicted hearing damage at SceneSC. Though it does make it pretty great. Not trying to pressure you or anything. You know, listen responsibly.

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