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Nicolas Matar – Latitude 40 Degrees

Journeys By DJ, 2001

I’ve mentioned it before, but despite all of the edgy tattoos and scars that I currently don’t have adorning my body (but in my mind, I do) I sometimes pose as a chic clubber (also in my mind).  I did used to go to a few clubs back in the day and shake it until 3 or 4 in the morning, which may seem laughable to the young tykes these days but hey, those were fond times remembered.  It has been some time since I’ve actually sat down and listened to some trance/house/electronica/whatever you call it, but I have been known to give such music a chance when presented because I have been pleasantly surprised in the past.  With its cool, simple design and songs like “Cafe Soul” and “Jazz Room”, I figured a compilation of songs mixed by Nicolas Matar might be decent enough.  Plus, if the disc ended up sounded great I could tell people that I first heard about the guy when I was clubbing in Ibiza by way of Goa.  I travel a lot (in my head) for dancing, by the way.

At nearly a decade old, this music still has the pulse to get a dormant listener up and active.  The first tune of Smurf & Perry’s “Lovin You” is a great start, though one could argue that it’s a pity that it’s too short even at just over five minutes.  However, that’s what DJs do; they can’t have you getting too comfortable with one song when there’s plenty of others to intertwine for a mix.  I don’t know whether it is Smurf or Perry, but the female vocalist sounds great on this one when she smoothly delivers the line “Lovin you/is all I do”.   “Starlite (Soul Vocal mix)” has a great background guitar intro before breaking into, indeed, another dance song with a female singer. She doesn’t have the same husky soul as the previous singer, but she does add even more pep to the already bouncing tune.

The aforementioned “Jazz Room” incorporates a rather erratic bass line before slipping in what sounds like cow bells and piano.  This track in particular sounds like it could be the background for a lounge scene that you might see on television somewhere.  The “Musica (Original mix)” is quite invigorating and amidst a long line of four-to-five minute similarly sounding tracks it stands out as something that could probably get a group of people dancing.

As the songs proceed, they all start to blend in together as one might expect from a mix by a DJ with a particular ear.  I will say that after awhile I do feel like I’m listening to a nineties dance mix, but I really can’t pinpoint why.  Perhaps the electric keyboard sounds remind me a little too much of something I might have heard from C & C Music Factory or Crystal Waters.  A few songs also give the impression that they could be used as backgrounds for a feisty Weather Channel presentation, which is probably not what Matar was aiming (and probably hates me) for.  Still, whatever hints of old sound that Matar develops is of little consequence because all of these songs, when played from beginning to end, provide a nice soundtrack to whatever gathering or work you have to accomplish.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find very much music to stream of Matar’s, but I did find his booking website that has a mix one can download:  DJ Nicolas Matar.

This release was part of a relatively large release of discs from Journeys By DJ records, so I really don’t know how this one compares to the rest of them.  It has a great vibe to it and it never got boring, so despite some sounds that might seem a little outdated, I thought it was a solid dance mix that would be quite good for any party or mood-setting occasion.  Sometimes indie pop or jazz just doesn’t cut it when it comes to inspiring an upbeat mood, so if you’re willing to experiment a little bit and take a chance on an established DJ, go pick up something by DJ Nicolas Matar.  I can’t say he’s better than everyone or anyone else, but at least it’s a starting point.  I, for one, think this was quite the bargain to pick up even if it only complements the rest of my guitar and drum music collection.

If you, like me, are seriously considering spending more money on house and electronica music and leaving the verse chorus verse stuff behind, you should be warned.  There’s so many DJs, mixes and compilations out there that want your attention in their claims of great party or mood music.  You really could choose any of them and probably get something that would be decent.  You could also spend too much money on something that looks great but sounds boring.  In my opinion, the best way to experience a DJ is at a live setting where you can let the music consume you while you’re dancing at a slick club.  This would at least give you a better feeling as to whether a DJ can truly inspire you to let loose.  Therefore, next time you’re in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or all of Europe, make sure you find yourself a great club or two and dress like you’re the center of attention.

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