Mathew Jonson – Marionette
Although we don’t like to emancipate in the underground, there are a still a few ‘trophies’ one can nod too. Closing at Time Warp. Playing at CircoLoco, DC10. And, of course, playing at Room One fabric. To get an even better nod, was to get a slot on their acclaimed Mix Series. Omar S, Shackleton, Ricardo Villalobos and Peter Inspires all had mixes that featured their own cuts. Mathew Jonson’s is different however. Not only did it feature exclusively his own production, it came from a recording of him playing live at fabric. His set was so good that the fabric team decided to put it on a mix cd. Being in awe of such a producer and DJ, the quality of his tracks made this decision easy. From the genre-defining ‘Decompression‘ (released on Minus), to ‘Dump Truck‘, a product of his collaboration with Danuel Tate and Tiger Dhula as Cobblestone Jazz, Jonson has many strings to his bow. And they all shine the brightest. His 2017 collaborations with The Martinez Brothers and Martin Buttrich were certainly an escapade in unadulterated dancefloor fun. What Jonson is most notable for, however, is his brand of emotive, bare-laden, minimal cuts. ‘Typerope‘, ‘Learning To Fly‘, and ‘New Identity‘ all summon such branding. None more than ‘Marionette’ though. Released in 2005 on his own Wagon Repair label, the track is the ultimate in chiaroscuro disposition.
Don’t get it twisted, Jonson is the major-domo of inculcated synth stabs and manipulation. Where others bearing such style may seem a tad ostentatious, knowing his background indicates he is one for for untrammelled experimentation. Beginning with a splurge of synth stabs, the melody is played with the subtlety of a classically-trained pianist. These notes are, however, performed with the sinisterness of Sergei Prokofiev. Syncopated in the highs, mids & lows they’re a reflection of Jonson’s freewheeling Jazz heritage. In conversation with Roland he remembers receiving his first piece of analogue back in 1986, a collection of MT-32 sound module, PR-100 sequencer and an HP-3000 electric piano. The SH-101, however, is the main weapon of choice for his music and was ‘used in combination with the JX for Marionette’. If you hold a preference for blippy minimal, I would steer clear. An ample kick then kicks in giving instant vivacity. Using an Ensoniq DP4+, ‘Marionette has a modulating distortion that slowly mixes between wet and dry signals’. It’s a momentously disorientating effect. Chopped hats with a touch of reverb flutter to add to the headiness. His tracks ‘Symphony for The Apocalypse’ and his remix of Joel Mull’s ‘Begun The End Has’ are moulded with similar mordant tones. Eery string synth pads warp in and out munificently, adding to the cinematic effect. To describe it as mystifying would be a criminal understatement, even sibylline one might say.
Looking at his recent exploits with Dorisburg and Sebastien Mullaert as Circle of Live, Mathew Jonson looks as happy as Larry. Whatever Jonson was influenced by in ‘Marionette’ surely wasn’t feelings of contentment. The track carries the same air as ‘Love Letter To The Enemy‘, which Hardwax claims sounds part of the Drexciya sound sphere. Be prepared to get lost in a vortex when listening to ‘Marionette’, whether that be at home or on a dancefloor.