During the first few months of 2012, BBE  Music have been on a roll, releasing a mixture of compilations and artists albums, which have included some great releases. Among the compilations, there’s been the release of Al Kent’s five disc disco Magnus Opus The Best of Disco Demands, Henry Street Records’ founder Johnny DeMairo’s amazing Johnny D Presents Disco Jamms and the soon to be released Best of Perception and Today Records compiled by DJ Spinna and BBE Soundsystem. Artists albums have included the critically acclaimed album from Boddhi Satva Invocation, plus the very welcome rerelease of Sandy Barber’s The Best Is Yet To Come and the recently released Dark Room Notes album Dark Room Notes. However, very soon, another of BBE Music’s rising stars will release his second album. He’s twenty year-old Norwegian Mathias Stubo, who released his highly acclaimed debut album 1979 in 2011. Mathias’ second album Mathias Stubo will be released in June 2012 on BBE Music. Mathias Stubo is no ordinary album however. It’s an ambitious and innovative twenty track album, which I’ll tell you about after I’ve briefly told you about Mathias Stubo’s life and career so far.

Born in 1992 in Oslo Norway, to jazz loving parents, who both had attended the prestigious Norwegian Jazz Academy, Mathias Stubo grew up immersed in music. Since then, he’s been passionate about seventies music. However, a key year for him was 1979, which would become the title for his debut album on BBE Music. The reason for his fascination with 1979, was the music, and the way it was being made. 

By 1979, synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines had revolutionized the way music was being made and freed musicians from previous constraints. In conjunction with “traditional” instruments, music was changing, and changing fast. 

For Mathias 1979 was the start of a four year “golden period” that ran through to 1982. During that period, so much of his favorite music was released, by artists like Harvey Mason, Don Blackman, Sylvia Stripplin, Patrice Rushen and Logg. That music would find its wayinfluence Mathias’ music career, especially his debut album, 1979.

This passion for music that Mathias had would eventually, lead to a career in music. Having learnt to play the drums, Mathias would start writing, making and producing music. His first album was 1979, released on BBE Music in June 2012. 1979 was a fusion of an eclectic combination of musical genres. This included funk, soul, hip hop, post-disco and Afro-funk. On its release, 1979 was released to critical acclaim. Since then, fans of Mathias Stubo have been waiting expectedly for the follow-up. Well, the wait will soon be over, with Mathias Stubo due for release in June 2012.

So, just a year after the release of his critically acclaimed debut album 1979 was released on BBE Music, Mathias Stubo is back with the eponymous follow-up Mathias Stubo. While second albums can prove difficult for many artists, this isn’t the case for Mathias. Indeed it’s quite the opposite. His new album Mathias Stubo is an ambitious twenty-track Magnus Opus, separated into two parts. The nine tracks that make up Part One is entitled High Frequency Feelings, while Part Two, entitled Soul Touch contains eleven tracks. This is an ambitious project, where Mathias fuses a variety of genres of music, including funk, soul, hip hop, post-disco and Afro-funk. These influences can also be heard on Mathias’ debut album 1979, and are among the genres of music that have shaped Mathias Stubo as a musician. However, what does Mathias’ second album Mathias Stubo sound like, and is it as good, or better than, his debut album 1979? That’s what I’ll decide when I tell you about some of the twenty tracks on Mathias Stubo.

With so much quality music on the two parts of Mathias Stubo, the best way to review the album is by picking some of its many highlights. My first choice from the nine tracks that make up Part One High Frequency Feelings is Soon On A Brighter Day. It’s a track that fuses a variety of genres within three minutes. Broken beat, jazz, soulful vocals and pounding beats combine with a wash of synths. As the track opens, you think a meandering soundscape is about to unfold. Wrong. From there, the track almost explodes. Present are a variety of sounds and musical textures. The vocals are sweet and soulful, the drums loud and proud, while gentle Spanish acoustic guitars and washes and stabs of synths combine. This results in a mesmerizing and tantalizing track that’s ultimately powerful, dramatic and intriguing.

Those High Frequency Feelings is another fusion of sounds and styles that from the opening bars, grabs your attention and doesn’t let go until the closing notes. Think funk, jazz, Latin, broken beat and even early noughties Nu-Jazz all combined in one bubbling melting pot. Stabs of horns, a proliferation of percussion, bursts of a driving, funk drenched, rhythm section that give way, to stabs of rasping jazzy horns, while synths reverberate above the arrangement. Burst of vocal and drums that add drama. There’s so much going on that you daren’t blink, for fear of missing something. It’s a frantic, compelling and complex combination of sounds. Mathias has a used an eclectic palette of sounds and influences, painting them on with bold brush strokes, resulting in a quite stunning sonic canvas, where the more you listen the more you hear, and the better it gets.

Let Time Pass sees no let up in Mathias Stubo’s ambition, creativity or sense of innovation. Opening, it reveals a space-age sound, before revealing a quite beautiful, spacious soundscape. A brief vocal, stabs of drums and synths give way to mid-tempo, spacious sounding track. Still the futuristic sound continues, as drums and synths punctuate the track, while brief glimpses of floaty vocals and haunting horns combine. Here, it’s like Nu-Jazz, downtempo and elements of futuristic dub combine, creating a track that’s dreamlike and beautiful.

Opp I Lufta, is one of the real gems of Mathias Subo has one of the atmospheric, chimerical sound that transports you into a phantasmagorical place. There you marvel at the sonic palette that Mathias weaves. Floaty synths, percussion and keyboards combine with stabs of horn and piano, while drums pound gently. By now you’ve been transfixed by this floaty, ambient, sonic masterpiece. It’s like the soundtrack to a surreal dream, where nothing makes sense but it’s still hugely enjoyable. For six ethereal and exquisite minutes Mathias takes you on a celestial, dreamlike, ambient journey that’s delicious and irresistible.

Continuing in a similar vein from the previous track is Life (Outro), another ambient, dreamlike soundscape. Mathias takes you on a graceful, floaty journey where times stands still. Here, a combination of a moody, meandering bass line, bursts of synths and flourishes of piano combine with spacey drums, while celestial vocals make brief appearances. Taken together, it’s like finest downtempo music, with elements of jazz and noughties Nu-Jazz combined. Although this is the last track on Part One of High Frequency Feelings, there’s still Part Two, Soul Touch to come. If it’s anywhere as good as Part One, then Mathias Stubo will prove to be quite an incredible album.

My first choice from Part Two Soul Touch is Oss To, a quite delicious and lush sounding track. Stabs of keyboards that produce a beautiful, dreamlike sound. They combine with drums, ethereal vocals and bursts of haunting horns as this soundscape meanders along. Filters are used effectively, adding to the beauty, as the track grows in power and potency. As the track grows, fatter funkier sounds emanate, before the track returns to its previous beautiful and bewitching sound.

When We Were One sees Mathias make good use of the keyboards and synths he utilized so effectively on the previous track. This is one of these tracks where resistance is impossible. All you can do is surrender to its charms, subtleties and melancholy beauty. Here, Mathias combines keyboards, synths and drums to produce a mid-tempo track that meanders along, trailing its thoughtful, somewhat melancholy sound in its wake.

For Your True Soul is another track with a pensive, but charming sound. Mathias combines an understated combination of drums, synths and keyboards, which combines light but sometimes, with a thoughtful sound. Although it’s a track that works its way into your consciousness, it makes you think. Like the last track, it has a melancholy sound, and is a dichotomy of sounds and textures. It makes you wonder what Mathias was thinking when he made the track, but more importantly, makes you think about the music you’ve just experienced and enjoyed. That’s the power this short, but compelling track truly has.

Stay/Come Back is track that fuses a variety of sounds and influences. Even in the first minute, you hear some of the music that’s shaped Mathias Stubo. Stabs of floaty synths, drums and keyboards that resonate, produce a sound that’s reminiscent of downtempo and Nu-Jazz, before pounding post-disco and house drums signal all change. From there, the track heads in the direction you’d get if you fused post-disco and house, with some old school synths and bursts of jazzy horns thrown in. Add to this, a funky bass line and bursts of ethereal vocals and you’ll get the picture. Still the drums pound, with their post-disco sound driving the track along, resulting in a hugely satisfying 21st century dance track.

The last track I’ve chosen from Mathias Stubo is Don’t Look Down, a truly intriguing track. Here, Mathias fuses drums that wouldn’t sound out of place on either a post-disco or house track, with haunting horns and floaty synths that could just as easily belong on a downtempo or Nu-Jazz track. His fusion of these sounds is both flawless and seamless. There’s a hypnotic sound to the drums, while the bursts of haunting horns and floaty synths add an atmospheric sound. Like so many times throughout Mathias Stubo, Mathias throws a curve-ball just when you don’t expect it. In doing so here, he produces a track that’s hypnotic, atmospheric and like so many tracks on this album, compelling and quite irresistible.

Earlier, I wondered whether Part Two of Mathias Stubo, Soul Touch, would match the quality of Part One, High Frequency Feelings. Well, I can truly say that that’s quite definitely the case. The music has the same quality and consistency, with one compelling and intriguing quality slice of music following on the heels of the previous one. It’s like Mathias Stubo has taken all the genres of music that has influenced and moved him during his life, using them to create an eclectic palette of music. From broken beat, jazz, soul and funk, to Nu-Jazz, dub, house and post-disco, it’s all here, mixed up and used by Mathias to create the twenty tracks on Mathias Stubo. Truly, it’s a melting pot of musical genres, sounds and textures. Although only twenty years old, Mathias Stubo has created a mature, ambitious and innovative album, one that contains some wonderful music, music that’s both compelling and intriguing. From ambient, atmospheric soundscapes, to frantic, frenzied, dramatic tracks with secrets and subtleties awaiting discovery, while dance tracks fusing post-disco and house are tinged with jazzy horns and floaty synths. All this, and much, much more is awaiting discovery on Mathias Stubo. It’s an album, where the more you listen to it, the more its subtleties and secrets reveal itself. That’s what makes Mathias Stubo such an ambitious, compelling and intriguing album, and a worthy successor to Mathias’ previous album, 2011s 1979.  Mathias Stubo, which will be released in June 2012 by BBE Music, and is an album that I’d recommend to anyone who loves good music. If, however, you can’t wait until June, why not investigate 1979, Mathias Stubo’s debut album, that introduced the world to the multi-talented Norwegian musician and producer, Mathias Stubo. Standout Tracks: Opp I Lufta, Life (Outro), Oss To and When We Were One.


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