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Ellie Hewitt, London - United Kingdom - on 30/8/12
Word Of Mouth
Matt Tolfrey, Leftroom Record’s head honcho is undoubtedly the maestro of that off key left centred, slightly wonky, hybrid house that is being played throughout the horizon of the underground. With the label doing well, Tolfrey’s taken some time honing and crafting his debut artist album. With a six date residency at Sankey’s Ibiza this Summer, and making it on to Resident Advisor Top 100 DJs, what to expect from the new album, Word of Mouth?
'I cannot play the piano and I am not professionally trained in any way musically, but through years of DJing I know exactly what I like, and I have great tracks in my head that need to get out. While searching the Internet for alternate ideas of making music, I came across some amazing software that enables you to simply sing or hum into a mic, which then translates into midi notes, which you then use as the basis of your tracks. In essence, it means that while I am walking the streets, or away travelling, and I come up with an idea for a bassline, or a melody, I can simply record it into my phone, return home, and sing it into the computer. In other words, ‘in theory’ the album is mainly going to be written with my mouth, not my fingers, and then fully realised with the help of engineers and guest vocalists - hence the name ‘Word Of Mouth’. - Matt Tolfrey
And of those guest vocalists..... Tolfrey has collaborated with none other than Marshall Jefferson, one third of My Favourite Robot, James Teej, the sultry vocals of Jem Cooke, Ya Kid Y for some old school disco action and his homeboy Kevin Knapp.
‘Encarta’ heads off in the right direction, it’s subtle, a little bit ominous with a soulful house vibe. During his University years at Nottingham, Tolfrey spent a lot of time listening to label DIY discs and the influences of artists like Nail are clearly apparent here. Moving onto ‘The Truth’ which is a bit of a banger complete with old school slick snares, it’s Chicago, it’s Marshall, with Tolfrey’s own unique slick twang on top; the perfect hybrid between old and new. The lyrics are hypnotic, the bass is pounding but not too aggressive, it has the makings of a classic. On ‘Downtown’ the pace is picked up a little with a techno vibe reverbarating around the heavy bass line, ominous lingering chords and the vocal setting off the kick drum; this will definitely go down a treat in the warehouse. Then comes the ultimate Tolfrey creation ‘Darkside of the Discoball’; a weighty release with pounding bass and kicks, with tight subtle overlays it’s a peak time groover. The album progresses with ‘Turn You Out’ into a special brand of dark disco house, retro chords, the catchy vocals provide a real spin, it has elements of funk but with a deeper pull. Finishing off with ‘Not So Little’ Tolfrey winds it right back down, into a tight dark piece, it’s sexy, it’s very clever and the whispering is on point with the a real broken edge to it.
Overall, this album is a credit to Tolfrey - it shows his depth and understanding of music as well his ability to put his own definitive Leftroom slant on it. You can’t credit that sound to any other label family, and as the boss of it all, he’s definitely the master. It’s got the right balance of bangers, of that wonky tinge, that after hours deep vibe, there’s vocals, there’s exploration and a journey, but it’s tightly presented and overall comes off as a pretty flawless package.
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