Matt Edwards AKA Radio Slave is back with a killer album, Feel the Same, on his own Rekids imprint this month. The Waveform Transmitter’s Simon Huxtable gets to grips with what sounds like a stellar debut.
Anyone with even a passing interest in house for any length of time will have either heard a Radio Slave track or, at the very least, be aware of Matt Edwards’ iconic production project. From humble beginnings as a resident DJ at Ministry of Sound in the 90s, Matt has flown the flag for the track heads among us: those disparate souls for whom vocals and short drum sections prove a distraction. Ours are the dark hours when the wannabes have left the floor giving us the space to explore the inner workings of our minds through chemical assistance, soundtracked by tribal rhythms, sirens and all manner of deviance.
Originally, Matt set up the Radio Slave moniker as another output for his feverish studio sessions. Initially used as a pseudonym for remixes only, very quickly the mid 00s became a flurry of off-kilter house masterpieces such as My Bleep, The Bell Clap Dance and the No Sleep series. Cuts on Ostgut Ton, Running Back, R&S, and more cemented the Radio Slave brand firmly in the consciousness of the underground, and with the backdrop of the minimal scene becoming ever more firmly ensconced as the bandwagon du jour, Matt’s sparse drum programming met his workload increased.
Indeed, his own label, Rekids – from which he took the name of his own downtempo project – was instrumental in assisting the growth of the careers of many of the big players in the scene today. So, 10 years since the inception of Rekids and some 15 as Radio Slave, it comes as something of a surprise to discover his new long player is actually his debut album! Due for release on September 22nd, Feel The Same will be available as CD, Vinyl and digital download from all good stockists.
From start to finish, Feel The Same is testament to Matt’s versatility as an artist and a definitive look at one of electronic music’s most pivotal figures. Like any good dance music album it explores the artist’s tastes rather than be a collection of current club bangers.
Consisting of 13 cuts, Radio Slave takes the listener on a sonic tour of his mind: ambient textures melt seamlessly with gritty urbane beats and moody bass lines. Years as a DJ have clearly informed Matt’s productions and in fact feed into everything he makes such that breaks, acid, dub, chill-out, and jungle have as much a place on the album as the house and techno we know him for.
Opening with the beat-less 2nd Home, with its murky tones and field recordings, the album navigates between syncopated beats, ethereal voices and screeching synths. There’s a couple of tracks which require a few listens for sure – one for the purists to a certain extent – but the album as a whole gels together very well with a few sonic motifs being used in different cuts to great effect.
Tracks like Geisterstadt see Edwards shift towards a classic electro sound making a clever left turn from what precedes, whereas heady rave breakbeats lay the foundation for With You which stands out as one of the big e-moments for this writer.
Alongside the album’s title track Feel The Same, No Words / Just This is the most dance floor focused and its driving energy and metallic synths feel almost homely. Almost progressive in nature, the gargantuan Axis clocks in at around 13 minutes and equally sparse Draw sees the producer venture towards the more minimal aesthetic that he made his name to back in the day.
With the collapse of EDM a few years ago and it’s flirtation with techno and now tech house, this year has been a revelation in discovery of albums like this and the forthcoming long player from Oliver Schories (next March). I can safely say there is a place still for deeper music that thrills the listener through shared emotion rather than the empty hype of more commercial, mainstream homogenised sounds, and that can only be a good indication of the potential of the underground over the next few years.
A.1 – 2nd Home
A.2 – Forana
A.3 – Feel The Same
B.1 – Trans
B.2 – Draw
C.1 – Axis
C.2 – 101
D.1 – Geisterstadt
D.2 – Parallels
E.1 – With You
E.2 – No Words / Just This
F.1 – Rize
F.2 – Gaikokujin