‘Nadir’ was my first exposure to 4mat’s timeless and emotional music. I was given the honor to review the album in 2014, and it filled a musical void I never knew existed until I listened to it in depth over and over again. With off-kilter percussion and melodies, polyrhythms galore, and overarching themes of memory and self-doubt, ‘Nadir’ is a thing of beauty, with some of its hauntingly beautiful melodies still ringing in my head to this day. Since the release of ‘Nadir‘ and the remaster of ‘Decades‘, however, the artist’s Bandcamp page had been relatively quiet up until the surprising release of ‘Modern Closure’, an expansive 18-track journey through the depths of emotion.
‘And the ocean will provide’, the third track of the album, opens with a solemn, pensive passage. 4mat builds a lush, calm atmosphere within the first few seconds of the piece by utilizing a mixture of panning synths and the alternating crescendo and decrescendo of background static to simulate the ebb and flow of the tide against the shore respectively. The chord change at 1:20 allows the piece’s melodic voice to enter in the track’s second ‘wave’ of sound. Piano and the faint fluttering of square tones can be observed intermittently starting at the 1:55 mark, slightly breaking the listener’s focus from the mesmeric, sweeping chords prevalent in ‘And the ocean will provide’. The second movement of the piece begins with the entrance of percussion at the 2:48 mark, which immediately stands in stark contrast to the song’s introduction. 4mat uses stuttered percussion to develop a mountainous tension, relieved by an open hi-hat; from here, the piece increases in volume and complexity, as sweeping chords and the tempting siren’s call of the melody manifests the marvels and mysteries of the depths.
‘Tracker’s folly’ begins with a catchy melody and a simple kick-snare pattern common to electronic dance music, while staying true to 4mat’s distinctive instrumentation. Claps, a tambourine, variations on the theme and harmonization are all introduced within the first minute and a half of ‘Tracker’s folly’, and just as we begin to familiarize ourselves with the overall vibe of this piece, 4mat flips the script. Percussion is cut entirely, and a new melody plays; admittedly, this section of the piece came out of left field, but this recherché change before the piece’s return to its primary melody was welcome, and a sign of bigger and better things to come. An enthralling change of direction at the 2:27 mark leads us to variants of familiar waters; melodies and riffs from earlier parts of the piece are scattered throughout, until we are again turned onto our heads at three and a half minutes in. ‘Folly’ is something of a whimsical term; the playful riff after a complete silence at the end of the track certainly breaks our immersion to an extent, and for an afterthought it’s definitely an interesting concept. It almost feels as though an explorer is searching for some treasure through the entire piece, encountering obstacles and enigmatic puzzles along the way, only to discover that at the end of their journey they’ve failed to find what they’re looking for…hence, ‘Tracker’s folly’.
Lastly, we’ll take a look at the album’s title track, the ever-so-central theme to this journey. ‘Modern Closure’ opens with deeply emphatic chords and an absence of percussion, allowing the atmosphere of sound to swell almost to bursting. Idiophonic instrumentation leads the listener into the bass-heavy melody of this piece. More so than several other songs on the album, the bass of ‘Modern Closure’ is undoubtedly intended to be the focal point and is a constant for a large portion of the piece. Permutations can be observed in the faint ringing of the aural background’s synthetic tones, but the idiophone and bass remain unyielding and immutable. At the 3:02 mark, we experience a distinct change in tone with snares rapid-firing and the bass fading into the background; for a brief moment, the focus of ‘Modern Closure’ shifts to the backing synths as their melodies play louder than any instrument we’ve heard previously in the track. Our attention is brought back to the bass, combined with deep kicks to create very distinct separations between notes. While much of the song is not dissonant or abrasive, there is a pervasive and irrefutable sense of anxiety and tension throughout until the final minute of the piece, where chords resolve and decrescendo on a note of consonance.
‘Modern Closure’ can be downloaded on Bandcamp for free or as a pay-what-you-want purchase. Conceptually, the album tackles nostalgia in quite an interesting way, and I see it from the viewpoint of someone coping with past trauma. With references to events that have happened in the past in titles like ‘Tracker’s folly’ or ‘Solar eclipse’, feelings of being left behind in names like ‘The shape of passing cars’, and introspective in ‘Out of memory’ or ‘Washed up’, ‘Modern Closure’ expands on themes established in 4mat’s other time-observant works, such as ‘Nadir’ or ‘Decades’.