Al Mathews aka Smear and one half of the UK’s Forward Strategy Group, (Patrick Walker makes up the duo) serves up Snare’s latest offering. Djing and producing under the Smear and FSG names, Mathews is uncompromising with his brand of techno. His sets, solo and joint releases could be described as aggressive, industrial, metallic and relentless to put it lightly. There is increasingly more and more hype about Al and his work with Patrick, and with good reason. Their debut album ‘Labour Division’ on Perc Trax seems quite simply to represent the hope and changes contemporary techno can make in order to move forward with help from the likes of people like Shed, Lucy, new boys Lakker and a band of forward thinking minds who are seeking to change the way we listen to, and understand not only techno but ‘sound’ itself.
Here, Al manages to create a sound, which encompasses these feelings while also maintaining an initially subtle groove and flow of percussive elements, which typically become hypnotic over time. In a market full of similar, unnecessary techno variations seemingly adhering to the same structural and creative formulas, Mathews has managed to carve out for himself a sound which sets him apart from many others. Testament to his undoubted ability, are his releases (as Smear, FSG and Retail & Leisure) on labels such as Zooloft, Dynamic Reflection, Perc Trax and Stroboscopic Artefacts.
What makes this mix for Snare so special, is Mathews’ ability to transfer his synonymous style to a different sound not usually heard from him. Snare’s ‘anything goes’ policy continues to be carefully and wholeheartedly adopted by the contributing artists and this is hugely evident in this mix. Mathews clearly has many gems lurking and ready to be unleashed in his record collection.
t almost seems to be the norm now for online mixes and podcasts to be the standard 1hr 15mins, give or take a couple of tracks. Even some DJ sets have to be cut short in order to accommodate a crammed programming schedule at many clubs around the world. Mathews had different ideas in mind for Snare. Allowing his mix to breathe, Smear offers a cool 2 hours of non-stop, chugging house and techno, which runs deep. Whether you listen to it through headphones or on speakers, this mix will slowly break you down and lock you into the groove for the duration.
An expert selection of tracks by the likes of the increasingly talked about DJ Joey Anderson, XBD, ‘man of the moment’ Levon Vincent and a certain Mr Dozzy & Mr Nuel. This mix yet again typifies what Snare is striving for, by asking artists to feel free to create a selection of music, which they may not typically get the chance to put forward. Smear’s mix for Snare sees him wrestling to the ground his unflinching, industrial, relentless style and taming it until it’s a brooding, deep and mesmeric trip which takes you back to a blurry smoke filled night on a dance floor, somewhere, sometime. Epic!