The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Album Review: Damage Control by Mat Zo

Cover art for Mat Zo's latest album, Damage ControlI hadn’t heard of UK-based musician and producer Matan Zohar, stage name Mat Zo,  a week ago, and neither had any of the half-dozen acquaintances that I mentioned him to. He’s relatively unknown on this side of the Atlantic. Now, having listened to and shared around his debut album, Damage Control, I’m determined to change that.

Damage Control is a stellar piece of electronic music. It splits its fourteen tracks between driving, danceable beats and laid-back chill rhythms. Somewhere on the album is a track to suit most any mood.

The opener, Superman Lost, is defined by understated tones and wordless vocal moans. It spends its two minute run building a sense of anticipation, paid off by the sudden transition to the much more beat-focused second track and album highlight Only For You, featuring Welsh singer Rachel Collier, who provides a pleasant if simple vocal track backed by masterful mix and production work by Zo.

Lead single Little Damage is an intriguing piece dominated by a wonderfully atmospheric flute part which lends the track a rather Kill Bill-like aesthetic.

Another standout of the album is the nearly eight minute long track, The Sky, combing beats evocative of early Daft Punk with ethereal vocals from Swedish performer Linnea Schossow.

Zo shows off some skill with album structure as well as musical production in the minute-long track following The Sky, titled Like It Used To Be. Although it isn’t lengthy, its an easy and effective palate cleanser that ranks as one of the highlights of the album. 

Moderate Stimulation mixes sweet, plucky guitar over a strong beat with excerpts from Jack Weinberg’s famous speech, The Generation Gap, making for the most interesting piece of music on the album.

The last quarter of the album is four straight strong tracks, including my personal favorite, Lucid Dreams, the fastest and most danceable track provided by the album, and EZ, a new spin on earlier Mat Zo favorite, Easy. The song is a tightly wound barrage of sound, heavy on the effects and the appeal. The albums ends well, with Pete Josef’s mellow, resonant vocals over light guitar sending the listener out and directly into another listen-through.

Overall, Damage Control sits as one of 2013’s strongest releases, and bodes well for Mat Zo’s career. I for one hope to hear more from him very soon.

You can listen to the album in its entirety below via Mat Zo’s SoundCloud account: