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Every Tuesday we are highlighting brand new albums that you should check out. This weeks review is on Mat Zo – “Damage Control”. Originally posted on WeAllHitPlay.Com – 11/20/13

Mat Zo – “Damage Control” – 3/5 (Review)
by Don Darko

Twenty-three year old British producer, Mat Zo, probably never expected his life to take the turn that it has. Dabbling in each progressive house, drum and bass, and other forms of production, Zo’s dedicated his youth to making beats. But he was likely not ready for the skyrocket-to-success, after being discovered by Above & Beyond and landing on the charts with a #1 Beatport hit. That record is “Easy”, a collaboration with another young producer, who shares a similar story, Porter Robinson.

While dance music has largely been an underground, singles driven market over the last decade, its corporate morphing into “EDM” has unfortunately made it conform to industry standards, such as making crossover records in an attempt to sell a full-length album. While we don’t expect Zo’s plan was to make a “hit record” with “Easy”, its meteoric rise to the top of the charts likely forced Zo into overdrive, having to release his debut album, Damage Control, while the iron is hot.

Damage Control is an honest effort from Zo, one that does not attempt to replicate the success of “Easy” over-and-over again, as Zo travels in many different directions on the record. Vocal driven tracks like “Only For You” and the Deadmau5+Kaskade-esque “The Sky” hit the nail on the head, honorably executed with integrity. His second single, the electro-driven “Pyramid Scheme”, a collaboration with Chuck D (or at least his voice, as the man doesn’t turn a blind eye to it being sampled), also nails it, however it might lack the staying power of “Easy”.

Zo also shows some serious versatility throughout the album with little bits of flavor sprinkled throughout the record, in a handful of under two-minute tracks. These moments help round out the album, such as the funky, wormy “Like It Used To Be”, or on “Moderate Stimulation”, a cheeky nod to producers like Madlib and J. Dilla, whom take a much more understated approach than say, Tiesto.

But “Easy” might be Zo’s gift-and-curse, like Avicii’s “Levels”, prior to True being released. The track still remains Damage Control‘s strongest moment, which unfortunately is the third track in, making the album peak too early, like an inexperienced DJ set. To make matters worse, the album is actually built around the track, so when “Lucid Dream” leads back into “Easy” for the second time on track #12 – retitled “EZ”, and without Porter – it almost begins to seem like they are milking the track for all its worth. Not helping the situation, Zo’s solo version pales in comparison to his chart-topping collaboration with Robinson. Hopefully this album’s structure is not a metaphor for Zo’s career as a whole. (We don’t think it is.)

Despite these gripes, Damage Control is a pretty solid entry level album for Mat Zo, one that shows much versatility and lots of potential from the young producer. While the pressure to top “Easy” is surely there, we can’t be mad at the kid for such an honest effort.

[via WeAllHitPlay.Com] – 11/20/13

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Drew Pierce

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