“Ambient” and “chill-out” are genres in which I’ve always struggled to find music that’s listenable, let alone good, ever since I first heard Brian Eno’s sublime Ambient 1: Music For Airports and thought to myself “More of this, please.”
I guess a lot of electronic producers add an ambient side-project to their repertoire assuming it’s easy to make, which it decidedly isn’t. Does music always need to have a point? I guess not, however, what I can tell you is that most of the chill-out music I’ve heard feels especially pointless.
Enter Matthew Naquin, aka San Mateo. Michael Donaldson (perhaps better known to 5 Mag readers as Q-Burns Abstract Message) at 8D Industries has sent me a few promising promos by this guy over the last couple of years, but this six track offering reveals a whole new layer of creative brilliance.
Apparently made on small selection of hardware synths, Exspiravit Luminaria feels organic and human throughout, blurring boundaries between classical and electronic music with its palette of warm strings, subtle sound design and mournful drones. Calling to mind Max Richter’s starker works at times, San Mateo continually wrong-foots and comforts the listener, charting bold journeys with chords, melodies and timing, when it would be all too easy to simply head for home.
Don’t expect to just place Exspiravit Luminaria in the background while you tap out emails or eat dinner: this is an ambitious mini-album that demands and deserves your full attention, while at the same time allowing plenty of space for reverie. So dim the lights, turn on, and get carried far away.
San Mateo: Exspiravit Luminaria (8D Industries / Digital / June 2022)
1. San Mateo: if panic! then release (04:48)
2. San Mateo: guilt suit (06:45)
3. San Mateo: LGM1 [PSR B1919+21] (02:00)
4. San Mateo: interoception (05:42)
5. San Mateo: a slow wave (08:18)
6. San Mateo: mary celeste (04:57)
⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was submitted as a promo.