Lost in The Sea of Paradise begins with a field recording, the sounds of someone stepping through the ocean, through initially deep water before getting to the shallows of the beach, over which an electric drone oscillates, pitches and splinters. It’s hard to know the significance of this on the two minute Endings are Beginnings, as from here on out, apart from one return to the water, the remainder of the album is purely, perhaps even proudly electronic. Though given the album art and title, you’d have to suggest the ocean fulfils an important role for Other Places. There’s even a track called A Calming Wave, though admittedly he’s probably referring to a calming WAV.
It’s the third solo album for Melbourne artist Matt Watson, where experimental tendencies go hand in hand with electro funk, techno, komische and house elements. It’s clear and precise, Watson very obviously knows exactly what he is doing with his machines. From heavily sequenced patterns to oscillating pitches and melodic flourishes, even when his compositions are bizarre and elongated everything has its place. It’s rare that you’d find such stylistic variances one the one album, and it says a lot about Watson’s broad taste in music.
You may know Watson via his recent percussion work alongside Lisa MacKinney and Ollie Olsen in Taipan Tiger Girls. And in fact it’s difficult not to be reminded of Olsen’s own work, not to mention his Psy Harmonics label both of which have been clear influences on Watson. You can place Watson’s work in a lineage that extends both near and far, from Cybotron to Dennis Garcia from Zen Paradox to Dark Network, though given he stylistically manages to traverse such wide terrain it’s very difficult to pin him down – which is a good thing.
He always seem to manage to imbue his sounds with an emotional resonance, often a kind of melancholia, even at times, bizarrely enough on his more anthemic dancey moments. Lost in The Sea of Paradise is a fascinating album, it’s bold stylistically, in that it covers so much terrain so well, effortlessly combining foot tapping stomps with quasi ambient experimental wig outs and quite a few worlds in between.