Friday, May 13, 2016

Review: Hotel by Matthew Pastkewicz

When I reviewed Matthew Pastkewicz's Quarters EP last year, I described it as "percussive, pulsing electronica [that] sounds positively triumphant, like the sort of thing you hear in your head when you run for a train and actually catch it".

Today, Pastkewicz releases a full-length album: it's called Hotel, and it's a markedly darker listen than Quarters. While 'percussive, pulsing electronica' remains a fair description of what's on offer here, the euphoric feel of the EP has largely been replaced by a sort of towering dread, as if Pastkewicz was trying to make the soundtrack to a dystopian sci-fi film that takes place amongst the imposing industrial architecture of the old Soviet Union.

Harsh synthesised sounds are the order of the day, although I do like the way those otherworldly noises are juxtaposed against earthier-sounding (but no less intimidating) drum parts. These tribal-sounding beats underpin the electronic squall very nicely, giving Pastkewicz's compositions a visceral organic edge that keeps things from becoming too alienating.

That being said, Hotel is still a very scary album in places: Apres Le Jour sounds like a horde of broken machines burning alive, while Ariel Pt 1 could have passed for boss battle music in some retro video game:

A sense of unease runs through this album, ranging in intensity from a vague, nagging anxiety to the absolute certainty that the world you know has been fallen and robots are coming to kill you.

But then - but then - there's Le Mans, Hotel's penultimate track. This is where the clouds part, the movie shifts from black-and-white to glorious colour, and the heroic Matthew Pastkewicz of old arrives on a golden steed to come and save the day. This is the ecstatic, triumphant sort of song we heard back on the Quarters EP, and it's all the more thrilling for all the creeping doom and aural assaults that precede it:

Just sit back and let that wonderful fuzz fill up your senses.

Hotel came out today, and it is available to buy from Matthew Pastkewicz's Bandcamp page.

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