Mad Mats Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1.

Label: BBE.

Mats Karlsson’s life changed forevermore when hip hop arrived in Europe in 1983. Back then, he was living in northern Stockholm, which was an ethnically diverse neighbourhood, and had no interest in music. That soon changed when he discovered hip hop.

Soon, Mats Karlsson threw himself into the b-boy culture and began collecting hip hop and electro records that he would use for his b-boy routines. Before long, Mats Karlsson was the Swedish b-boy champion. He had come a long way in a relatively short time. By then, he had well and truly caught the music bug.

After a couple of years, Mats Karlsson was already a familiar face within Stockholm’s DJ scene. Just like many DJs within the hip hop scene, he started searching for original breaks he could use in his routines. For Mats Karlsson, this was the start of his crate digging career. Before long, he was spending much of his time in Stockholm’s record shops.

This was where Mats Karlsson first met Damon Frost a.k.a. D-Frost, who was a dancer from Los Angeles, who had recently relocated to Stockholm. The two men became friends and bonded over their love of music. Damon Frost began introducing Mats Karlsson to disco, funk, reggae and soul, and helped him understand the music from a dancer’s point of view. This was something that later, would help Mats Karlsson as a DJ.

By the late-eighties, Mats Karlsson was spending most of the daylight hours crate digging in Stockholm’s record shops and record fairs. Just like many DJs, Mats Karlsson had an insatiable appetite for new music, which he hoped would give him an edge during his b-boy routines and when he stepped behind the wheels of steel. Other DJs thought Mats Karlsson had taken leave of his senses, as his whole life revolved around crate digging and searching for that elusive break. That was how Mats Karlsson became known Mad Mats. 

As the eighties gave way to the nineties,  Mad Mats was contemplating a change of his career, and in the early nineties, hung up his dancing shoes. Up until then, Mad Mats had juggled parallel careers as a dancer and DJ. However, with his DJ career starting to take off, Mad Mats decided to concentrate on his DJ-ing career.

This was just as well, as he was DJ-ing all over Stockholm and further afield.  There was no way he could continue to dance and DJ. Especially when Mad Mats found himself travelling further afield to DJ. Some weekends he was booked to DJ in London, where he discovered the vibrant jazz dance and rare groove scenes, and DJs Giles Peterson and Norman Jay. Both DJs would influence Mad Mats DJ-ing style. So would Jazzy Jeff, who Mad Mats heard spinning soulful house at the Sound Factory during his first visit to New York. All of the music that Mad Mats was hearing would provide inspiration when Mad Mats was asked to curate a compilation.

By then, Mad Mats’ sets were eclectic and had been since the mid-nineties. Then in 1996, he founded the Fusion club in his native Stockholm, which proved to be a successful business venture. A year later in 1997, and Mad Mats was asked to compile and mix a compilation for Supersounds Volume 1. Disc one featured Tony Zoulias, with Mat Mats working his way through eighteen tracks on his mix. This was the first of several compilations that Mad Mats would compile.

As the new millennia dawned, Mad Mats was ready to embark upon a new venture, his own record label, Raw Fusion Recordings. It was based in Stockholm with Mad Mats taking charge of A&R. Still he continued his career as a globe-trotting DJ, playing across Europe and in America and Australia. Mad Mats was by then, one of Europe’s top DJs, and unlike many top DJs continued to spin vinyl right up until 2005. 

That was when Mad Mats switched to Serato and began using control vinyl to manipulate digital files. By then, Mad Mats needing space in Stockholm sold off the majority of the 10,000 records in his collection. Despite doing so, Mad Mats was still passionate about music. 

In 2005, Mad Mats compiled two new compilations for his label Raw Fusion Recordings. This included Raw Fusion Bass-Ment Classics and Raw Fusion Recordings Presents Inside Scandinavia Volume 2. These two compilation were an introduction to the music that Mad Mats’ label had been releasing over the past few years. 

Four years later, and Jazztronic and Mad Mats were asked to compile and mix compilation. The Rawest Fusion was released in 2009, and showcased Mad Mats track selection and mixing skills. It was an eclectic mix, but nowhere near as eclectic as his Mad Mats’ next compilation.

After the release of The Rawest Fusion, Mad Mats continued to juggle different parts of his career. While his DJ-ing career continued apace, Mad Mats also founded two record labels in 2011. This included Local Talk which specialised in house music, and Basic Fingers which releases edits and reworks of disco and house releases. Having founded two new labels, Mad Mats added musical impresario to his CV.

Over the next six years, Mad Mats’ Local Talk and Basic Fingers’ labels have gone from strength-to-strength. So too, has Mad Mats’ DJ career. His sets are eclectic as he takes the listener on a musical journey that can include everything from soul, funk and disco to boogie and reggae to electronic, hip and house. Equally eclectic is Mad Mats latest compilation Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1 which was recently released by BBE. It’s a captivating and eclectic musical journey, with highlights a plenty.

By 1969, trumpeter Johnny Moore divided his time between The Skalites, who he founded in 1964, and his solo career. In 1969, Johnny Moore recorded the instrumental Big Big Boss, which was released on the Doctor Bird label in the UK. With its sunshine sound, Johnny Moore’s reggae instrumental Big Big Boss is guaranteed to brighter up even the darkest day, and is the perfect way to open Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1.

Gappy Ranks’ recording career began just after the new millennia, and since then, he’s released five albums between 2006 and 2016. None of them feature Sherriff which has been remixed by Murio. He combines elements of dancehall, dub and even grime on a track that shows another side to reggae.

Ensemble Entendu is a collaboration between Astro Nautico co-founder and co-owner Sam O.B. who previously and label artist Photay. The collaboration began in July 2014, and since then, they’ve been DJ-ing in New York and recording music in various Brooklyn studios. This includes Selected Rhythm Works Volume 1. One of the album’s highlights is Jah I See You, a hypnotic, genre-melting, leftfield track where everything from hip hop, dub, electronic, experimental and industrial are combined to create a moody, cinematic track.

DJ Robert Arnold dawned the Cuthead moniker when he and his Kunst:stoff Breakz crew held hedonistic parties in disused building across Dresden. This upset the authorities, and soon, he throwing a party was akin to a game of cat and mouse. By 2006, Cuthead embarked upon a recording career, and has released six albums between 2008 and 2016. However, in February 2015 Cuthead released the Presets Of Your Mind EP on Sampling As An Art Records. It features Badly which is another moody, futuristic and cinematic track where musical genres unite.

Prolific is the best way to describe Intimate Disco, who released fifteen albums on the Ebonite label. Animations is a Jim Tullio composition that featured on Intimate Disco Album 9, which was released in 1977. At first, Animations is dramatic before a jazz funk jam starts to unfold. Soon, Intimate Disco combine disco and proto-boogie with jazz funk as this memorable jam shows its secrets.

In 1984, Psalms released their debut album Take A Stand on Sprinkle Records. Nowadays, the album is a real rarity, and copies change hands for upwards of $100. One of the highlights of the album is Take A Stand, where gospel and soul combine with boogie and funk to create an irresistible track.

Yvonne Gray wrote Keep The Music Alive which was released on the Trac label in 1975. This is a welcome addition to the compilation, and features a vocal powerhouse on a track that is funky and soulful. 

By September 1974, soul man Bobby Hebb was signed to the Crystal Ball Records, which was based in Salem, Massachusetts. Bobby Hebb wrote and produced Evil Woman, and delivers the lyrics with power and passion. It’s as if he means every word of this oft-overlooked hidden gem.

Between August the ‘31st’ and September ‘5th’ Bill Laurance and his band recorded nine tracks at Parlor Studios, New Orleans. These tracks became Aftersun, which was released on GroundUP Music in 2016. One of the highlights of the album is The Pines which features a jazz masterclass from pianist Bill Laurance. It’s one of nine good reasons to buy Aftersun, and discover the delights of Bill Laurance’s fourth album.

Twenty-five years ago, Antonio Puntillo, Claudio Coccoluto and Kipper collaborated together as Uni (You and I). The fruits of their labour was the single Don’t Hold Back The Feeling. It was released on the Italian house label Heartbeat, and featured four tracks. This included the Key Trip Dub of  Don’t Hold Back The Feeling which is a reminder of the golden age of house music.

BSTC released Jazz In Outer Space as a single in 2006 on the Chicago-based All Natural Inc label. It was a dance-floor friendly fusion of jazz, funk, house and Latin. Two years later, BSTC returned with a new album Music For A Saturday Evening, the floor filler Jazz In Outer Space returned for a well deserved encore. It takes another bow on Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1.

Eight years after house producer Ezel released his debut single in 2008, he released Get Down on Mad Mats’ Local Talk label in 2016. Joining Ezel on Get Down was vocalist Tumelo. They provide a potent partnership on the Ezel Funk Mix of Get Down. It’s a reminder that there’s still producers created quality soulful, funky house 

Again, it’s 4/4 the floor all the way on Ossie’s I Hurt Yoo, where filters are deployed effectively during this melodic track.  Partly that is due to a sample of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Clair, which plays it’s part in I Hurt Yoo’s dreamy, Balearic, feel-good vibe.

Deft is the moniker of producer Yip Wong, who wrote and produced  The Traveller. It features on the 12” single Supreme Sound From London, which was released on Skullcandy Supreme Sound in December 2012. The Traveller is a journey in sound that veers between a dubby electronic, to tougher, tech house sound to minimalist, Balearic and uplifting.

Matthew Puffett dawned the Mode-M moniker in the mid-nineties and in 1996, released Space Based as a single on Justin Winks’ new Oxford based label. Space Based was the first single the nascent label released and is dubby, lysergic and futuristic slice of techno. Twenty-one years later, and Space Based has stood the test of time and could still fill dance-floor.

Closing Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1 is Turbojazz and Ct-Hi Ensemble’s Strings Of Life which was released on Mad Mats’ Local Talk Records. It’s full of surprises as elements of disparate musical genres melt into one, as the arrangement ebbs and flows. Everything from downtempo and electronica, to Nu Jazz and house are combined with proto-boogie and disco. The result is an intriguing adventure in sound from  Turbojazz and Ct-Hi Ensemble. They ensure that Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1 closes on a high.

The sixteen tracks on the CD version of Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1, which was recently released by BBE. Vinyl lovers have also been catered for, and BBE have released Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1 as a two LP set. However, only twelve of the sixteen tracks make their way onto the vinyl version of Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1. However, regardless of which version of Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1 music lovers decide to buy, they’re in for a musical feast.

Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1 is reminiscent of one of Mad Mats’ DJ sets. It’s equally eclectic and finds Mad Mats switching seamlessly between disparate genres during this musical journey.  Mad Mats switches between boogie, disco, electronica, funk, gospel, house, jazz funk and techno. There’s also diversions via Balearic,  experimental, industrial, proto-boogie and tech house as the journey unfolds. 

Meanwhile, Mad Mats introduces the listener to a variety of artists, bands and producers. Some of these will be familiar faces, while others will be new names to many music fans. They’re in for a pleasant surprise as they discover the delights of Mad Mats’ Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1.

Mad Mats Digging Beyond The Crates Volume 1.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: