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New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1999 | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1999
DJ Electronic Ambient



The best kept secret in music


"MADTEO "Noi No" LP"

Madteo may have first come to your attention with his single for Workshop back in 2010, or maybe earlier, through his collaboration with leftfield rapper Sensational on Lanquid Music. The fact is, while his presence on the scene makes eminent sense in 2013—a time when the resolute outsider holds considerable sway in dance music circles—Matteo Ruzzon has been around since before that narrative took hold, and will likely continue to be long after it subsides.

It makes sense then, that as eccentric takes on house and techno become the norm, the New York-based Italian should take a further step into the unknown. Sähkö, the Finnish label best known for releasing austere electronics from the likes of Mika Vainio, is an unexpected place for the producer's second LP to end up. But Ruzzon seems to take his newfound home as an opportunity to continue his recent move away from the dance floor towards a far knottier, more multi-faceted aesthetic.

That's not to say that Noi No doesn't feature its fair share of dance floor numbers—albeit obtuse, treacly ones. "Dead Drop (When I Saw You That Nite)" and the exquisite "Tanti, Maledetti e Sempre" both have something of the essence of New York house, buried under layers of soupy pads and scattergun hi-hats. But there are just as many moments when the kick drum functions as an adjunct to some stranger process, as in the murky, dead-eyed "Il Capoline," or "Rugrats Don't Techno For An Answer"'s marvellously unexpected Drake samples. Often drums exit the frame altogether, leaving skeletal but surprisingly sensual synth workouts in their wake.

But for all this variety, Ruzzon is no genre tourist. Binding these tracks together is his inimitable sense of pacing, a stop-start approach to laying out material that rejects conventional narrative development in favour of intriguing, mirage-like stasis. Even more than that, it's Ruzzon's personality that coheres this album, given form in his near-omnipresent voice—a languid rasp intoning surreal puns ("What are you reading? The Wall Street Urinal?" he asks in "Il Capoline"), supplying sultry commentary ("Dead Drop"'s monologue recalls Savage's spectral contribution to Rhythm & Sound's "Smile"), or, in perhaps the record's deranged peak, forming the sole material for an entire six-minute track, stuttered and looped into a playful mantra ("Vox Your Nu Yr Resolution").

Playful is the word—everything Ruzzon touches takes on a wry edge, a certain mordant humour that doesn't undermine its sincerity. Over Noi No's 11 tracks, he harpoons the notion that challenging music can't be sexy: this record is both baffling and stylish, cryptic and effortlessly seductive. - RESIDENT ADVISOR

"MADTEO "Dropped Out Sunshine" LP"

In March this year, the largest private real-estate project in US history opened on the west side of Midtown Manhattan. The critics hated it. Built over a mostly disused railyard, the $25 billion development, called Hudson Yards, is an opulent mix of high-rise flats and offices, a shopping centre, an arts space and a rose-gold folly the New Yorker called "a shawarma-shaped stairway to nowhere." This past July, I walked along the High Line on a cloudless Friday afternoon and gawped at its tallest skyscraper, thinking of its 1,100-ft high observation deck, an aggressive glass chevron, as an "up yours" to urban planning.

You don't have to guess what Madteo thought about it. On his last album, the exceptional Noi No, he referred to the city's hedge-fund daily as something that more closely resembled a public good. "What are you reading," Madteo asked on "Il Capoline" with a sneer, "The Wall Street Urinal?" His catalogue reflects a very different New York. You get a sense of his sardonic personality through track titles like "Laissez-Faire Couture," "U$b Schtick" and "Alan Greenspin," but the music's winding, unpredictable depth is more revealing. It can resemble a rickety train of thought, which runs from the bodegas, record shops and flea markets of his day-to-day in Queens to a ruminative, second-guessing inner self.

On Madteo's new album, Dropped Out Sunshine, we ride the whole route, starting in his lounge. In the first few seconds, a string section plays the sort of tragic refrain you hear in telenovas when the camera cuts to a hospital room. The patient, it turns out, is Drake. We get a shelling of MPC-triggered kicks and multi-pitched mantras like "This one's for you" and "Baby, you're my everything." Here, Madteo turns a seconds-long intro section of "Best I Ever Had" into a three-minute pummeling, wringing as much from its beat-length samples as possible. You wait for it to settle down, but it's a coin that keeps spinning until, in the last few seconds, the strings return.

Madteo records often have a lived-in, curtains-drawn atmosphere, and there's a fair amount of that here. By the album's last third, this mood combines with a pleasant fatigue—the blustery gothic drone of "To The One Of Fictive Music" and "The Lies That Bind," a knackered study of Grouper, pull your lids down like graffitied shutters. That's no surprise given the LP's exertions elsewhere. Check, for example, the madness of "Resident Alien (Broke-'N-Steppers Reluctant Club Mix)," where ragga loops stumble amid record scratches that sound like police sirens. On hearing "Same Way"'s churn of tense, prickly synth chords, I suddenly wanted to hear a DJ mix them with a hyperswung 12-inch from A Made Up Sound. "NYC (Where U B?)," a rare but not unprecedented glimpse of full-on sunshine in Madteo's music, is a disco-house joy machine with Wu-Tang adlibs.

The titles of Madteo's music are full of sly ambiguities. In "NYC (Where U B?)"'s case, it's a reference to Ol' Dirty Bastard's yelp ("Where you be, motherfucker!?"), but it could also nod to a disappearing way of life. "I hang out a lot with older native New Yorkers," he said in 2016, "and they're constantly lamenting the loss of what they feel made the city truly great"—the possibility, he explained, to pursue a creative life while earning very little. Instead of bohemias like The Cedar Tavern, where abstract expressionists got shitfaced with Beat poets, New York was filling up with "$20 burgers and $15 cocktails, places for trust fund babies to sit with 'friends' and stare at their smartphone screens."

Some of the album's source material may already be on the Spotify playlists of these casually expensive restaurants. But Dropped Out Sunshine is unlikely to accompany a forkful of saffron fries. Take "Evol On," a punch-drunk trap cut with a hypnotically assertive warning: "I can't show no love to a snake / I can't show no love to a bitch who acting fake." "Would Eddie House Mind?" is even stranger. The titular blues artist sings about defiance—"Don't you mind people grinnin' in your face"—with a texture of heartbreak, encouraged by claps from a small audience. Coupled with the wail and grind of feedback, the effect is surreal. This spectral, out-of-time ambience adds an unexpected vulnerability. Yet the sentiment, of persevering against sceptics, is made stronger by its presence here, half a century later.

Between 2017's Scientrysts EP and this album, Madteo's releases had all come out on cassette, a format that seems especially suited to his grimy, freehanded style (it may also reflect a view on vinyl's creeping expense). On the most recent of these, the DDS-released Forest Limit, rotting field recordings and welts of noise constituted some of the unfriendliest stuff Madteo has made. As the tide has ebbed on "outsider house," his music has only become freakier. Sometime after Madteo asks, "What is going wrong with your life today," on Dropped Out Sunshine's final stop, the music's stoned fog begins to clear. We've come off the rails. - RESIDENT ADVISOR

"Madteo feat. Sensational ‎- Special Offer LP"

Special Offer is a full-length collaboration by Queens-based producer Madteo (AKA Matteo Ruzzon) and Brooklyn weirdo-rap veteran Sensational. Both artists wander the outskirts of their chosen genres: Ruzzon's been plying an outsider version of house long before it became fashionable to do so, and Sensational's been freestyling madcap rhymes over experimental beats since the early '90s. Special Offer makes it clear that both of them draw primarily from the streets for inspiration—not in the typical hip-hop sense, but from the bodegas, the neighborhood characters and dog-eared 12-inches of New York's past.

Sensational is best known for his work within New York's '90s illbient and experimental hip-hop scenes, and has more recently been associated with artists championed by Bill Kouligas's PAN label—most of his solo releases have come through Spectre's Wordsound Recordings, and he also worked with NHK'Koyxeи on a 2010 LP. It's unclear how Ruzzon and Sensational linked up, but their work together spans back to Madteo's debut single, Basiado Beatdown. Indeed, their opaque approaches go hand-in-hand—in an interview with The Wire's Derek Walmsley, Sensational described his music as full of "the fog shit i be in and about," which could work as a description of Madteo's music as well.

Released on DJ Sotofett's Wania label, Special Offer is a stylistic grabbag that'll make you feel like you're surfing the FM dial in some alternate reality. Madteo moves through narcotic dub ("$ 0.99 intro") and corroded boom-bap ("Anastrophy," "Party People Love Me"), while Sensational throws out improvised-sounding wordplay that's dense but direct. The highlights are a couple of tunes solely credited to Madteo. "Moretones," which features effects from Sotofett and guitar from neo-dub classicist Tapes, is a meandering psych-rock track that sounds like a synth obscurity from Düsseldorf or Mexico.

"La Giungla" is another serpentine piece of psychedelia, this time embedded with disco loops. "48HRS Bliss (I Got Groove)" sees Ruzzon and Sensational at the height of their collective powers, offering up their abstract version of a golden-era rap jam. As Sensational shouts, "Play them keys!," Ruzzon brings in a clanging set of Rhodes chords, making clear the vital chemistry between these two margin walkers. - Resident Advisor

"DJ Sotofett feat. Madteo - There's Gotta Be A Way 12" Ep"

If he wasn't involved in music, Madteo could probably specialise in movie trailer voiceovers. His vocals injected his recent Noi No album with colour and character (think Nick Nolte after a pack of Lucky Strikes). It's possible that the Queens-based artist learned the power of the spoken word from Sensational: Madteo credits the hip-hop artist, who featured on some of his early singles, with teaching him a back-to-basics approach to music.

Produced by Sex Tags chief DJ Sotofett, the "Underground" mix of "There's Gotta Be a Way" couldn't be more primal—as stripped back as dance music gets. A crackly drum loop rumbles for nearly 16 minutes, over which Madteo croaks a soporific, stream-of-consciousness monologue. The low-life poetry of Bukowski is a touchstone here, although at times the lyrics are obtuse to the point of baffling—"Do I prefer being fucked in the ass or being treating like an ass?" he asks at one point. Sotofett keeps the drums buried in the mix, the same infinite loop rolling and rolling while the monologue continues.

The flip sees Sotofett showcase his production wares on the "Vision of Love Club" mix. It's a more substantial offering, with synths, skipping hats and more detailed percussive elements. This time Madteo no longer sounds like he's in a drug-induced stupor, and the more conventional arrangement pushes the vocals out of the limelight. As with most of the Sex Tags output, it's hard to tell if this record is genius or a prank. In truth, it's probably a bit of both. - Resident Advisor

"Madteo - Strumpetocracy 12'' Ep"

The excellently titled Strumpetocracy EP is Madteo's first release since his Noi No LP for Sähkö late last year. While that record saw Matteo Ruzzon expanding his vocabulary with beatless compositions of various sorts, here we're back in more familiar territory: a mixture of abstruse house and shadowy downtempo sketches, beat-led but far from rhythmically straightforward.

"Laissez-Fair Couture" is a gritty, suspenseful beast, built around a kick that sounds like a balloon being thwacked against a microphone. As a string drone periodically swells and recedes, twitchy synth lines and parched industrial tones are unravelled in a typically perverse manner. "Mr. Gecko" is the requisite downtempo number, marching with an ungainly gait that's equal parts terrifying and absurd. A woman's voice chants something similar to—but not quite—the title; you get the sense there's a trademark Ruzzon pun buried in there somewhere.

Brilliantly unstable house construction "We Doubt (You Can Make It)" is the record's peak. As the titular vocal refrain is ceaselessly stuttered, fragmented and re-ordered, and a creamy bassline swoops underneath, it's difficult not to marvel at the skill with which Ruzzon builds momentum without ever allowing the beat to settle into regularity. Remixes of the track from Sex Tags' DJ Sotofett and Dreesvn set out in opposite, if equally devious, directions. Sotofett's "Radio Mix" is vaguely floor-friendly but endearingly homespun; Dreesvn throw the spotlight on luscious New Jersey organ chords for a stop-start curio that's both soulful and chilly. - Resident Advisor


Still working on that hot first release.



After growing up in Italy, the producer born Matteo Ruzzon moved to the States as a teenager – first to Texas, then to New York in ’94. As he told FACT Magazine in a recent interview, although he’d spent ’90-’92 in the Italian after-party scene, it’s New York where he developed most as a DJ and producer, eventually releasing his own music on labels like Morphine and Lanquid in 2007 and 2008.

Although his unique take on house, techno and hip-hop has now been picked up on labels like Joy Orbison’s Hingefinger, for us Madteo’s crowning achievement (well, beyond his cheekbones) is Noi No, his 2012 album for Finland’s Sähkö that mangled and inverted everything from morbid organ riffs to Drake. Writing in FACT, Steve Shaw claimed that “to take Noi No all in at once requires the listener to pay attention closely, and committing to this is quite exhausting – not in the least because it feels like an unsolvable puzzle each step of the way. However, for someone who has toiled away at his interests for years, never changing to please others, this should be taken as a compliment.”

MADTEO's sound—a strange blend of house, hip-hop and ambient that sounds more streetwise than avant-garde—is the result of an unusual journey, both musically and personally. Having grown up in the Veneto region of Italy, as a teenager Ruzzon went on a student exchange to Pitzer College in Claremont, California—"it was like Animal House but with an international flavor"—where he discovered dub and reggae, which formed the foundation for his taste. "I sense that bass being the one frequency range you can feel physically is how a lot of people got hooked on music," he said. "For me it made so much sense, I mean all the music I've ever loved has heavy bottom."

In the summer of '94, Ruzzon moved to New York on a whim and rented an apartment in Murray Hill, just a stone's throw from Club USA, a multi-floor venue run by the infamous nightlife impresario Peter Gatien. A few months later he moved to a former gallery space in Alphabet City, where he shared a room with a kid from New Zealand—his first DJ friend. Living and clubbing in New York in the '90s, Ruzzon was exposed to a vast range of different sounds—"salsa, Cuban music, merengue, dancehall, soul and funk, rock, punk, new wave, disco, whatever..." His roommate was into jungle and drum & bass, which dovetailed with another sound Ruzzon became addicted to, trip-hop, and later, a sound sometimes known as "illbient," but which he called "dub hop," exemplified by artists like DJ Spooky and the Mo Wax compilation Headz, and a label called Wordsound, where Ruzzon worked part-time through the end of the '90s. This was where he met Sensational, then an artist on Wordsound.

A few years later, Ruzzon's Myspace slipped onto the radar of Rabih Beaini, then known as Morphosis. In 2007, Beaini released Ruzzon's first 12-inch, a collaboration with Sensational called Basiado Beatdown on Lanquid Music, a sub-label of Morphine Records. A year later, Morphine release his first LP, Memoria. Both were to house what illbient was to hip-hop: a dark and blunted alternative, twisted and different without being artsy.

The rest flowed naturally from those first records. Over the next few years, Meakusma, Workshop, Sähkö and Wania all got in touch to ask if Ruzzon would do records for them. Last year, he launched his own label, M.A.D.T.E.O. RECORDS, whose one 12-inch so far, Voracious Culturilizer Disco Mix, is his most overt attempt yet at a dance floor bomb (offset, on the B-side, by a droning ambient cut).

Band Members