Matthewdavid Aka Matthew McQueen came to light as part of the burgeoning LA beat scene with his woozy, psychedelic sound setting him apart from a quickly overcrowded landscape. Since the release of his full-length debut Outmind on the Brainfeeder label, the restlessly active McQueen has lent his distinctive production style to a variety of projects that have included a collaboration with art-rap wordsmith Seregenti and an EP of “flipped” (or remixed) tunes titled Jewelry which opens with a delightfully screwed mix of the Rolling Stones track ‘Miss You’.
As label head of Leaving Records he has also pushed the envelope working with a diverse range of experimental artists, and recently joining forces with heavy weights Stones Throw who not only act as a distribution arm for the label, but the labels also partnered for an eclectic compilation titled Dual Form featuring the likes of Julia Holter, Dntel, Knx., and Odd Nosdam.
His previous outing under the Matthewdavid moniker, 2014’s In My World, saw him relying heavily on his own vocals; a hazy, R&B flitter underpinned by his trademark saturated beats. This move received mixed reviews but if nothing else once again showed McQueen’s uncompromising ability to jump stylistically from project to project.
All of this makes his latest release not completely surprising considering his breadth of work, but still a bit of left turn all the same. Falling under Leaving Records’ “Modern New Age” series and credited as Matthewdavid’s Mindflight, Trust the Guide and Glide is McQueen’s swan dive into a sprawling, ambient abyss.
Preceded by Ashram in late 2015, the modern new age description is certainly apt, but where Ashram felt drowned by its own theme, Trust the guide… carves its own space, each piece expanding and contracting as they develop like the ebb and flow of the tides. It’s difficult to think that this water metaphor is mere coincidence with oceanic titles such as ‘Ocean Dream Symphony’, ‘Unfolding Atlantis’, and ‘The Vessel and the Voyage’. Even the cover art by 70’s artist Gilbert Williams depicts a fantastical water world governed by the moon and stars above.
This certainly isn’t McQueen’s first foray into ambience, 2011’s Swedish Fish split with Odd Nosdam found both artists moving away from their more beat-centric work and playing with warped ambient soundscapes; however McQueen’s contributions were still defined by the woozy saturation of his beat work. And although there are some similarities here the overall sound is cleaner, focusing on subtle dynamics and gradual textural shifts, immersive low end topped with swaths of shimmering pads and hypnotic arpeggios.
‘Venusian Sunset’ is the most identifiable in relation to his previous work, but in this case McQueen submerges himself not in the smog-filled air of L.A. but in the vast depths of the Pacific. But the album truly takes flight on ‘Elven Invitation’ and the 20-minute opus ‘The Vessel and the Voyage’, both tracks propelling the listener, transporting them from the sea to the air on their own Mindflight.
Trust the Guide and Glide may not appeal to fans of McQueen’s earlier beat work but the enveloping; slow burn undulation is bound to delight ambient music fans and in particular fans of Leaving Records previous installments in their Modern New Age series.