Spacious drum machine pulses, full-bodied and insistent bass, peculiar but endlessly funky melodic progressions: you know a Mathew Jonson record as soon as it hits the system. Rooted in classic techno and electro but accented by jazz-like musicality, his productions first appeared in the early 2000s on Perlon, Minus and his own labels, Wagon Repair and Itiswhatitis Recordings. Even his early cuts have endured a decade-and-a-half’s worth of stylistic shifts. You’re as likely to hear a 2003 Mathew Jonson cut today as you are one that was recently released—a testament to the power of finding your own voice in a scene where the tracks can all too easily blend together.
I’d heard from other producers in Berlin that Jonson’s studio was one of the most enviable in the city, so I was quick to accept the invitation to see where his inimitable sound comes together. After heeding his no-shoes policy and making my way to the center of the cozy space, I could see what his peers were talking about. Arranged in a V-shape extending out from a mixing desk, Jonson has just about every canonical synth and drum machine you could think of, from the Roland classics and Yamaha polys through to a varied modular system and some choice obscurities. Jonson was keen to discuss his gear and the stories behind some of these pieces, but he also stressed that creativity and musicianship are more important than owning rare hardware. Still, it’s nice to have it if you can, and with one of the more grueling touring schedules in the business—see his excellent fabric 84 for evidence of why his live set is in high demand—Jonson has truly earned himself this ultimate synth cave.
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