For those unaware of who Matt Martians is, like I was before checking out The Drum Chord Theory, he is one of the founding members of the funky, neo-soul group The Internet. In fact, he’s pretty much the mastermind behind the group, handling much of the production and overall sonic direction of their music. He follows in the footsteps of Syd, their lead singer who recently just released her first solo offering, by offering up a solo project of his own.
While this is a solo project, he is a producer first and foremost and that shows immediately. On Ego Death they played in the R&B/neo-soul range for most of their songs and on The Drum Chord Theory he stays in that same chilled out lo-fi range, but the general application is much more experimental. It’s much more funk leaning that what you’d hear with the group, as all the production has a loose, free form feel to it that employs all kinds of spacey synths, and funky bass and drums that come in at odd intervals, creating a mish mash of sounds that you think wouldn’t work on paper but turn out oddly satisfying. I love the crazy synths on “Baby Girl”, “Southern Isolation” is pure funk grooves, and “Where Are Yo Friends?” sounds like some early Star Trak. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pharrell was one of Matt’s major musical influences because I can hear his DNA all throughout his music.
“You don’t wanna stay around
I don’t want nobody around you, baby
I’m better now that find that I found you, that’s maybe
Better not try to take your love away from me
I found a diamond in the rough”
As I stated earlier, The Drum Chord Theory shows that he is a producer first and foremost and that’s where the real strength of the project lies, but that’s not to say that he doesn’t sound surprisingly good on a lot of these songs. He never will sound as good as his group’s lead singer but he never tries to. Instead he relies on his strong sense of timing and great ear for what generally sounds good, and thanks to some great use of vocal synthesizers and other manipulation he crafts some really fantastic grooves like on “Diamond in da Ruff.” The album really shows how musically talented he is and is a great exercise in experimental grooves.
Have you heard The Drum Chord Theory? What’d you think about it? How does it compare to Syd’s solo release? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for the album.