- Though Matt Karmil seemed to appear out of nowhere last year, his debut album, ----, has the considered approach of a producer with more than just a few releases to his name. In its press release, Karmil explains that, though he's been making music for years, he had no intention of releasing anything until recently, when it was reportedly coaxed out of him by Kompakt artists Popnoname and Ada.
It's not hard to see why Karmil's work resonates with the Kompakt crew. Like many in the Cologne label's family, the Englishman's productions are warm, rich and heady, treading the line between Funktion One stacks and home stereos. Grounded in house, the aesthetic across ----'s eight tracks is hazy but far from lo-fi. Aside from the occasional piano stab, tape hiss and acid squelch, most of the sounds here are unrecognisable. It's clear that Karmil obsesses over the samples he uses, and the rewards are obvious.
The first of eight tracks is "Open," a murky six-minute workout that sets the tone for the rest of the album. For the most part, the next 45 minutes see subdued kick drums paired with simple, unobtrusive basslines, both serving as a sturdy platform for Karmil's collages of moody samples. Like a lot of quality deep house, the emphasis is not on snappy drums or swing, but on atmospherics. Karmil's deft approach creates some truly immersive moments, and the highlights come when the tracks stretch out. At ten minutes long, "Frankrike (float)" is one of the album's choice cuts—it's not much more than a simple loop, where the same short string and keys samples repeat for its duration. In many respects, ---- is an example of classic minimalism. But those weary of the tag risk missing out on the warmth of Karmil's palette, and the unique charm that comes with it.
03. It's Rough
04. Live The Dream
05. Frankrike (Float)
07. A Lot To Share (Album version)
08. Wow (And Flutter)