ABQ Green Room
Matt Kollock Knows What He's Doing, but I Don't
By Gote McDonald
Experimental artists have 30 seconds to make a good impression on me. Too many artists opt for slow, dramatic introductions—maybe because they think it makes their work sound important, or that it will intrigue the listener enough to finish the tape. With his album microorganism, Matt Kollock tries this exact, risky method; and it works.
The production on the first track “Everybody Needs To...” clues you in that this album is not amateur work. Helping to tease this album’s ambition, Annie Sanchez delivers some clean spoken word musing on our collective humanity. This isn't an intro you've never heard, but it doesn't need to be for Kollock to effectively communicate that his intentions go a little deeper than the average record. Both the sound and the lyrics have piqued my curiosity at this point.
Whatever I was expecting when I hit play is different than what I expected by the end of the first track, and neither expectation came close to what Kollock would inflict with the song "Everybody Needs It." The nasally, experimental, synth pop track has a vocal delivery that reminds me of some educational science video narration on a TV your teacher would roll out when they don’t have a lesson plan. It also evokes an alien character in a sci-fi movie that somehow knows English. For a project that opened with "I am no different than you, you are no different than her," Kollock seems to be trying to defy his own assertion with the weirdest track I've ever heard. I have no idea where I am, where it's going, or what will happen next. I feel trapped, and the only way out is forward.
“Giving The Game Away” is bouncier, a bit livelier. His vocals get a little more power in parts—a little more drama, a hint of anger. His lyrical content so far has been vague allusions. “Everybody Needs It,” “Giving The Game Away.” He doesn't encroach on specifics, maintaining a giant question mark looming over this listening experience.
“Everybody's Got a Beard Of Bees These Days” starts with a badass, whiny guitar riff that sends you to a mysterious and scary place. The lyrics here are still just as head-scratching, but it's something about the eccentricities of the modern world—something about hipsters, I think. My editor had to clue me into that one so I'm here to clue you in to our guess. At first I didn’t like how cryptic Kollock's lyrics all were, but after you get enough confusing statements to chew on the guitar solo comes in and tells the rest of the story. The way this song ends makes me think it would be a killer song to end a set on—it's pretty epic.
“Undercover All Along” is good. It's easy on the ears, the lyrics are clearly understood and relatable. In this instance, the vocals work with this tone of song, and there's more smooth, skillful guitar to enjoy. It's the first song that I can see adding to a playlist. I finally feel like I can see and breathe in this cavern of a project. It's the accessible light at the end of this meticulously crafted, 27-minute tunnel.
That is, until “Jump on Top of The (World With Me)” blocks the sun out again. This dark, slow, twisted, acoustic track is really cool sounding. The vocals slowly get louder and more agitated as it goes for exactly five minutes. It's the last song on the album before the outro and it feels like it doesn't want to let go. I dig it, I dig what he's doing and what he's exploring, but if it came on shuffle I would skip it because it’s meant to be a part of a greater unit. Depending on the artist that’s a compliment but in the streaming era it’s unfortunately a hindrance. I also wonder how this would play live. It might be kickass in the background at the right bar, but in a medium-sized venue it might be your cue for a smoke break.
Still in darkness, Annie Sanchez is back like a spirit to guide us out of Kollock’s tunnel of existentialism in “Everybody Ascends.”
microorganism will stick with me. I've never heard anything like it, and I don't know if I ever want to hear anything like it again, but I am definitely glad I heard it. Matt Kollock has insanely interesting ideas and a totally unique and eclectic execution between the synths, distorted vocals, and solid, classic style guitar playing. He's an extremely gifted producer whose work warrants attention.
I don't know that this tape will get many replays now (aside from “Undercover All Along,” that’s a hit), but if Matt Kollock does a live show soon, I won't miss it. That's not because I know it'll be a smash (though I’m confident it would be) and it’s not necessarily because I'm in love with his sound (though I just might be…), it's because I DON'T know how it'll make me feel, I DON'T know if I'll like it, and it's been a long time since an artist left me lost in curiosity like that. If/when I see him perform live, I could love it or I could hate it, but I know I'd never forget it.