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Album Review: Matt Warren’s Music is My Life

Matt Warren’s newest house release brings mixed feelings.

Kevin Ashley

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Here is another new album I received, Matt Warren’s Music is My Life. I am not new to electronic music as a whole, but I am to the genre of house. Really, I have only heard some acid house like Phuture’s classic track “Acid Tracks” and Roger Burn’s Acid Attack EP, so my exposure is very limited.

Matt Warren is an established Chicago House producer and DJ, a co-founder and founder of multiple record labels – Sunset Records and AKA Dance Music are two – and has collaborated with many musicians. Matt’s love is house music, and “Music is my Life” is described as “the sound of Chicago House fast forward 40 years”. Fans will be interested to hear Matt’s Music release, as it’s the first time he’s published new material in over 10 years. It’s listed as Chicago House and Nu-House, neither of which I’ve heard before. Anyway, let’s get to the music.

First up is “How Do I Love Thee”, which has an accompanying music video. On the first listen, I find the production to be interesting. I wonder if this was recorded live, or at least designed to have that sound? The bass has a very deep “thump”, like you are standing next to a big speaker. There is an array of brass on display, while vocalist Pepper Gomez fills in with spoken word. The saxophone is a really nice touch, and the beat moves along energetically. Decent opener, but I feel it would be better if Pepper was singing rather than speaking.

Next is “The Way To My Heart”. Opening up with the classic “clap” sample and some tribal-esque metallic percussion, the stomping four by four beat is accompanied by brass, as well as some guitar bass lines. This one is very disco-like, I can easily see this one being popular on the dance floor. Good track overall, but the vocals can get a little repetitive.

“Catch Me if You Can (Main Mix)” follows in the same vein as “The Way To My Heart”, with the metallic percussion, disco vocals and feel, and brass. The beat is not as punchy as the previous tracks, but the brass definitely has a bigger presence. The vocals follow the same flow as “How Do I Love Thee”, but with more of a melodic presence this time. Solid, again.

Fourth is “Catch Me if You Can (Disco Mix)”. It’s mainly the same as the “Main Mix” but with some different percussion rhythms, and a heavier funky bass line. Honestly, I feel this one could have been placed somewhere else on the album, or even left off, since it’s so similar. I’m used to remixes being very different from the main song, like Mental Discipline’s “Butterfly” and the remix done by Unity One.

“Get On Up” features the “clap” and tribal again, but with some soul-leaning vocals. This one is similar to “Catch Me if You Can (Main Mix)”, but without the brass. I feel it’s pretty generic, and doesn’t stand out from the tracks I’ve heard so far.

“Going Deeper” changes up the percussion big-time, going for the sound of a drum set, complete with cymbal hits. The keys also make for a nice change of pace from the disco-esque tracks, and while the vocals might be repetitive, it doesn’t hamper the song as they are spaced out enough. There’s a nice accompanying bass line, making this almost like a jazz jam session. A step up from the “Disco Mix” and “Get On Up”.

Next up is “Musica Es Mi Vida”. Opening up with an Italo-esque beat and nice bass line, the brass on this one takes on a Latin flair, reminding me of Ryan Paris’s “Baila, Baila”. The saxophone is really on display in this one, to great effect. Another good change up, preventing the album from getting too repetitive, especially for a new listener like me.

“Bang the Box” is a re-recorded version of the 1987 classic from Matt’s label, AKA Dance Music. Instantly I can tell the classic acid house sound is here, from the cowbells to the Roland TR-808 percussion. There’s a nice and squelchy TB-303 acid line as well, immediately placing this one as my favorite. A stellar dance track!

“La Rosa” continues with the Italo beat for a few seconds, but the Latin flair really comes out with the brass and flamenco guitar. The singing on this one is also way different from the previous songs, adding another dimension. Another solid track.

“Sometimes” is different again, this time with a hip hop-esque beat and vocals. There is some good keyboards in the background, but generally I am not into hip hop/rap, so this track doesn’t do anything for me.

The last track, “The Dark Storm” is one very long piano piece. Again, this one misses me, as I am not a fan of piano. It’s well composed, but doesn’t hold my interest.

Matt Warren’s release, Music is my Life, could be best described at a two-part album. The first half, from “How Do I Love Thee” to “Going Deeper” provides some good house tunes, but gets stale by the end. The second half, starting with “Musica Es Mi Vida”, and ending with “The Dark Storm”, is very varied. The Latin-influenced tracks, as well as the acid house track (what a banger), were the highlights of the second half. However, the last two tracks fell off sharply, causing me to give this album a mixed rating.

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Kevin is a graduate from Central Washington University, where he was awarded a Bachelors degree in Professional and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Silverdale, Washington, where he explores new food and drink, goes to concerts, and works on personal projects.

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