Review Summary: Matters not
It’s hard for me to fully comprehend Nothing’s Matter
is ten years old, since I can vividly remember anticipating M.T.Void’s debut album with baited breath – in part because it was a Justin Chancellor side-project, and because it was the next best thing to Tool content (or so I thought). Of course, what we got from the duo was a bizarre avant-garde record; a coarse mesh of abrasive, repetitious bass grooves and electronics, with Mohamed’s… unique, shall we say, vocal work. With buyer’s remorse, I tenaciously stuck by Nothing’s Matter
and convinced myself it was a flawed but interesting album. However, listening back to it now, the harsh truth of the matter is M.T.Void’s debut LP is a soporific collection of atonal tracks with very little memorability to them, outside of the ostentatious vocal performances. In earnest, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t completely forgot about this project in their decade-long hiatus (outside of the initial hype I had for Nothing’s Matter
at the time). I only stumbled across Matter’s Knot, Pt.1
during my banal routine scrolling through Friday’s new music. With that, it’s fair to say I had no idea what to expect here: was M.T.Void’s new album going to double down on their avant-garde sound or were they going to approach this project differently? The answer is that it’s a bit of both, but it doesn’t make much difference regardless.
Let’s get the positives out of the way first. Matter’s Knot, Pt.1
is marginally more user-friendly and melodic than its predecessor. “MaBeLu” and “Drop-Out” are in nature more benign and melodic, with the soft female-led vocals on the former and a more reserved Mohamed on the latter, while “Lilt” has this interesting industrial lean to it which sounds like a song from the Last Rights
era of Skinny Puppy. Next to that, the album runs in at a compassionate thirty minutes, avoiding exacerbation and making the worst traits here far less egregious. This is where the compliments end though. The bookend of Matter’s Knot, Pt.1
displays the worst qualities of the album, first and foremost. For those lucky enough to remember the dial-up noises that came with connecting your telephone connection to the internet, “Death Survives” is essentially six-and-a-half-minutes of that – a bafflingly agonising and disheartening way to open up your new album to listeners, if you ask me. “Magmaficent” on the other hand feels more akin to Tool’s “Lost Keys” interlude for “Rosetta Stoned” – a droning monologue over repetitious guitar notes. The premise is the same here with Justin’s ethereal delay, but “Magmaficent” decides to push the boundaries by making it a five-and-a-half-minute snoozefest with none of the agency, context or pay off afterwards. This is because “Lost Keys” is setting up something, whereas here, “Magmaficent” is winding the album down to a miserable conclusion of futility, and a test of the listener’s patience.
Overall, Matter’s Knot, Pt.1
is not a good record. There’s a modicum of melody this time around, but on the whole the album lacks any clinching moments. After listening to it a handful of times, I still can’t point out a standout groove, melody, or thoughtful compositional highlight. Its beige amalgamation of structureless instrumentals and spoken-word poetry make it a niche album, obviously, but even for fans of this ilk, it’s just not interesting to listen to. Putting on my monocle and analysing the album title, it would imply there’s a follow up to come, and if this is the case, I can’t say I’ll be there to check it out. M.T.Void is a classic example of a band who has experimentation at the fore of their creativity, but none of the nous to make it remotely interesting.