2014 was a big year for Jonny Nash, he recorded the album Clouds over two days with fellow ambient producers Gigi Masin and Marco Sterk, as well as launching his label Melody As Truth with a solo LP titled, Phantom Actors. While Gaussian Curve immediately entrenched itself in ambient history with Clouds – its popularity says a lot about it – Melody As Truth has become equally important as one of the foremost labels championing the modern genre. To celebrate their latest release, MATstudio 1, we’ve reviewed and ranked five of their best albums.
Well made ambient and new age music can hold the listener’s attention while giving them space to explore emotions, ones they’ve forgotten, ones they haven’t felt, or can’t pin down. These releases are no different; with thirteen to their name, each is crafted carefully and lovingly to the personality Jonny Nash has nurtured in Melody As Truth. It tends to flit in the sweet spot between earth and sky: light and deep notes dance, lifting you up and grounding you simultaneously. This is music full of the certainty, uncertainty and abstraction of life.
5. Suzanne Kraft and Jonny Nash – Passive Aggressive
Two of the label’s most prolific artists team up to put together a composition of astounding beauty. Feeling anything but collaborative, it’s a testament to their shared thoughts, aesthetic and talent. A quiet album that blooms in the right climate. Primarily focused on two traditional musical instruments in the foreground of ambient feathery voices and synths. At the start of the album both the piano and double bass get a space to breathe and craft atmospheres in their own songs. The former creates a powerful cathartic soundscape in ‘Beluga’s song’, as well as cleaning the air in, ‘Photo With Grey Sky, White Clouds’. It evokes a sense of calm and peace.
Songs such as, ‘Hanging Glass Structure’ allow the clumped bouncy bass to release taught vibes of frustration and annoyance; the ambient background helps dissipate what would feel like anger into these lesser emotions. Towards the end of the LP both passive and aggressive resolve their differences to form a separate sound to A-side. The outcome is a perfectly balanced ending in ‘Time, being’, which compresses guitar, double bass, piano, synth into 2:43 of bliss.
4. Jonny Nash – Eden
It was difficult to choose between Jonny Nash’s three solo releases, but this one marks an evolution of sound. He recorded the album between Bali and England. Eden is a slower and warmer production than Exit Strategies. The guitar doesn’t take centre stage but works on a shared platform with other instruments; the result is an album painted with broader brushstrokes of piano, chimes, gamelan, tribal drums and strings.
In each track, there’s a thick texture running through, but it’s most notable through the converging instruments in ‘Conversations With Mike’ and ‘Down In Babakan’. The flood of notes sway in ‘Police Bribe’ and ‘Lime’, conjuring up a hammock in sight of the ocean. Eden finishes how it starts: deep, meditative and mystical.
3. Suzanne Kraft – What You Get For Being Young.
Diego Herrera’s musical journey started making house disco for labels such as ‘Running Back’ and ‘Young Adults’. While he continues to release music of a similar vibe, the influence of Jonny Nash and Melody As Truth is clear in his subsequent records. He’s become an intricate sound designer, crafting soundscapes of depth and beauty. What You Get For Being Young is the successor of Talk From Home. It’s minimalist and experimental. Listening to the album feels like being stuck in a hypnotic time loop of everyday life and the moments of beauty found in it.
Grating noise, almost like maracas, and laidback percussion are a few of the tones that tally into the modest sounds that seem to stand at knee height. Tracks such as ‘Body Heat’ and ‘Ze’ are comprised of nearly only synths, but what they lack in diversity, they make up for in subtlety and mood: slightly eerie with hints of being on a long journey. The album opens up to vulnerability through the twitchy electronics of ‘Fragile’. If ‘The Result’ in Talk From Home is the bridge to What You Get For Being Young, it’s exciting to think what the grating noise and endless synths of ‘Further’ will lead to. An impressively multi-faceted and emotional LP through stripped back minimal ambient sounds.
2. Tourist Kid – Crude Tracer
Tourist Kid really pushed the boat out with this one. Experimental, weird, abstract and beautiful, Crude Tracer is like a ball of yarn that unravels distorted sounds into the traceably linear. The evolution and devolution of the notes are stunning. This album always manages to stay palatable, no matter how acerbic the song is. It brims with disconnection and isolation through the sharp, cut sounds of faulty electronics: whistles, ringing, static. It jars the senses when contrasted to the ambient synths running through the tracks. ‘Discourse II’ is representative of the album, starting off with distorted acute notes until a haunting voice overpowers them, though, by the end, the track is a dirge to the lost with no end in sight.
The last few songs of the album, ‘UV Bleacher Tangent’, has the sounds of the A-side but they are filed down and softened; the same can be said with ‘Bacterial’, the warped electronic sounds are in harmony with the piano, which makes the song traditionally ambient and meditative. Crude Tracer is in constant conversation with itself, sounds come and go, conjuring up memories to six songs past. ‘Petrol’, the last track of the album, is virtually devoid of the experimental sounds that make up the LP, yet L. Rothnie’s voice returns to lull us into feeling resigned and lost. An artistic achievement of thought and planning that pays off from start to finish.
1. Suzanne Kraft – Talk From Home
Ambient music has a habit of evoking melancholy, sometimes a break’s needed. While this LP isn’t totally ambient, it speaks of relaxed and protracted joy throughout its run time. Pendant with long fruity evenings, the smell of pine trees, sweat and rain. A long summer compressed into 40 minutes. It’s the odd one out on Melody As Truth, occupying a slightly more upbeat position than other releases. Though the record still fits snugly into the label through the atmosphere it conjures up: a room to think, chill out and hear the trees. The album starts with ‘Two Chord Wake’, it has childish xylaphonesque notes hanging over the relaxed beats and percussion that bestow the track with unmuddied happiness. Diego Herrera grew up in L.A., and this album was recorded there between December 2014 – January 2015. He’s mostly based in Amsterdam.
The A-side is relaxed and content with ‘Flatiron’ stealing the show. The B-side continues the vibe with ‘Renee Sleeping’ but, by ‘Male Intuition’, it’s clear something’s coming to an end. The song is only comprised of guitar chords and they speak of nostalgia and melancholy as they echo. ‘The Result’ rounds off the album as a purely ambient song with its notes drawing out over long distances. In the background, there are occasional strings of deep tonal guitar. Talk From Home is a perfect album to induce slow Spring and Summer happiness.
MATStudio 1 is out now.
Buy it here.