A sprawling, trippy ode to NYC's vanishing cultural legacy

  • Year: 2017

Madteo is without a doubt one of the most confounding artists operating on the fringes of "club-oriented" music today. A longtime New Yorker, he's dug his own hole for more than a decade, carving rough, stuttering soundscapes that refuse to sit comfortably in any "canon" of electronic music. Reputation-wise, he's got endless cred, with a decade of releases on cult labels like SähköWania, and Workshop, but does most of his unclassifiable thing in the DIY margins, via ephemeral SoundCloud tracks, cryptic Tumblr posts, and most recently on his own Bandcamp page

NiteMARE NOSTRUM is a monumental product of this obtuse artistic practice. A 2+ hour epic: part DJ mix, part free-associative audio collage, launched in three parts, and available as a free download. 

The title jacks a roman term for the Mediterranean, meaning “our sea.” Outside of Madteo’s Italian birthplace, it’s a reference that’s as obtuse as anything else in his ever-expanding head-cannon, but it's fitting enough for this project, a vast and churning ocean of re-contextualized sound. 

Madteo's muse is New York City itself, as he collages local color commentary, dollar bin house, pirate radio interviews, and hip-hop freestyles into long-form aural storytelling that almost transcends DJing entirely. It's a deeply weird, supremely listenable plunderphonic ode to the occult history America’s most diverse city, cynical and nostalgic in equal measure. 

NiteMARE NOSTRUM Pt 2 artwork

The sequencing is all over the place in a way that’s uniquely Madteo, that is to say: fully hybridized. Cheeky / menacing, narrative / hypnogogic, frantic / glacial. His original bits employ rumbling, saturated sub bass loops, glitchy digital detritus, and harshly chopped samples, echoing subterranean beat-tape masters like Spectre and contemporary street-level innovators Standing on the Corner. There's even a few appearances from fellow down-for-life NYC freestyle freaker Sensational. As for the borrowed music, almost every sound source is bathed in some sort of grit. Stepped-on dollar-bin 12”s, sun-baked mixtape cuts, and blown-out looping fragments.

I had the distinct pleasure of catching one of Madteo’s disorienting performances in SF last year (shoutout RS94109!) The selections were more consistently dance-able, but the knack for head-scratching bricolage was in full effect. A master in a game no one else can even play. 

Don't sleep on copping the whole epic set while you can, as the man is known for his capricious publishing habits.