Review: Madteo “Noi No”

05 Dec 2012 — Warren O'Neill

Madteo

After several releases on some of House's coolest underground labels, such as Workshop and Hinge Finger, Madteo takes a step into the spotlight with his second full-length Noi No, this time on the legendary Sähkö label. Read Warren O'Neill's take on the LP after the jump.

A self confessed vinyl junky, Madteo got into production quite late when, at 27, he got his hands on a cheap sampler. Approaching music making as a “non-artist” music fan he has quickly become one the most talked about musicians in underground dance music due to his unique sound, which falls somewhere between rugged instrumental Hip-Hop and low-slung House.

However, Noi No is definitely not business as usual for Madteo with only a few of the tracks having a strong resemblance to his former sound. The album is mainly composed of beatless tracks and, as far as I'm aware, until now Madteo has never released a song without drum. Drums or not, the songs still carry his characteristic rough and ready style and remain in constant flux between form and formlessness. This loose style has been a bit of a fad of late but Madteo is someone who has been doing this long before it became a trend, and on Noi No as on his previous records it feels like a natural expression rather than a forced aesthetic choice.

Another surprise is the prominence of his own voice. Although it has generally featured on most of his releases it has never felt so intimate. One almost has a sense of guilt as if you had been listening in on his private confessions due to the content and the softness with which they are spoken. In this aspect, Noi No shares a lot of similarities with classics such as Silent Introduction  by Moodymann or Midtown 120 Blues by Dj Sprinkles, both of which conduct similar inner monologues over House beats, and use music that is generally regarded as hedonistic as a backdrop over which to vent/educate/meditate.

As enganging and genre-defying as most of the tracks on Noi No are, it does contain one or two duds. The repeated vocal samples on “Vox Your Nu Yr Resolution” are entertaining at first but grow tiresome on repeated listens. The same goes for “Rugrats Don't Techno for an Answer”, which can best be described as an R&B collage mainly composed of samples from a Drake song. Due to the sample source and title, perhaps the track is addressing the lack of interest in Techno/House among young people in the US and the dominance of R&B, but that's just speculation.

Translating House music to the album format has always been a challenge, and Madteo has been successful by simply not making a House album. Boldly ignoring expectations, he has created a work that showcases his various talents and interests while managing to retain his own sonic identity. Due to this variety and the esteem of Sähkö, this could be the release that finally puts Madteo “above ground” and gives him the wider praise that he deserves--but might not necessarily want.

Noi No can be streamed in full and  purchased on vinyl and digital formats directly from the label right here.