Arguably one of the biggest shocks of this month’s DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll was the lowly No.93 ranking of Mat Zo, the in-demand British producer who many believed could possibly be a future winner. Released via Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeats label, his first studio effort, Damage Control, only further highlights just how hopelessly misplaced his position was.
The shimmering Gallic electro-house of “Only For You” and the robotic vocal loops, video game synths and pumping EDM beats of Porter Robinson collaboration “Easy” initially suggests that Damage Control may be yet another Daft Punk/Justice homage. However, following the wonky trap music curveball of “Caller ID,” the 23-year-old then opts for a selection box approach, taking in everything from acoustic soul interludes (“Fall Into Dreams”) to shimmering trance epics (“The Sky”) with an effortlessness and style that many of the 92 DJs who finished ahead of him can only dream about.
“Pyramid Scheme,” an increasingly hyper and slightly twisted slice of hard hitting electro featuring a specially re-recorded vocal from Public Enemy’s Chuck D, hints at Mat Zo’s love of rap, as does the Flying Lotus-ish hip-hop jazz of “Moderate Stimulation.” “EZ” is the kind of UK two-step garage throwback that has transformed Disclosure from bedroom whizkids to Mercury Prize nominees, while “Time On Your Side” throws the gospel psychedelia of early Primal Scream, the gurgling basslines of Skrillex and the soaring seductive vocals of Janai into one big euphoric melting pot.
The glistening synth-funk of “Like It Used To Be,” the Pied Piper-goes-dubstep of “Little Damage” and the Middle Eastern-inspired opener “Superman Lost” only add to the sense of adventure. And while the bass-heavy “Lucid Dreams” and “Time Dilation” ensure that Damage Control ends on a more familiar note, Mat Zo has by that point already staked his claim as one of the best new genre-hoppers around.