French producer Matt Fax has released his sophomore album Progressions. The album title is apt with this one as it covers a lot of ground over its 17 tracks and a runtime of 70 minutes. It expands on a spacey, melodic trance sound into some deeper, progressive melodies and even a touch of soaring synthwave music on the last track with trance vocalist royalty Richard Bedford.
The album is vast and rich with a lot of full and beautiful melodies to get lost in. However, instead of us trying to parse everything apart, we asked Fax to break down the album, track-by-track, to get a better sense of the creative ideas and collaborations.
Read on and get your copy of the record here via Colorize. There are a lot of songs so listen as you read.
The is the intro track, it’s one minute long and gets you in the mood. Funny enough, it was one of the last tracks I did for the album. I wanted something that could reflect the overall feeling of the record, dark but a bit melodic as well. It was pretty much influenced by the opening track of The Eminem Show, the piano progression is very alike.
2. Always You ft. LEVV
The track came as a mock-up of an Anden collaboration, a progressive duo that I love, who usually use a lot of Moog sounds in their records. For the breakdown, I definitely was influenced by deadmau5 (“Slip” or “Lack Of A Better Name” is a great reference). I thought that vocals would elevate the track to another level, and LEVV totally delivered it.
3. Light On
I wrote this track when I was not even in the creation of the album. I finished this demo a year ago before ASOT 900, but decided to not play it as I felt it was not strong enough. It got definitely inspired by Eric Prydz “stadium” records like “Opus,” “Exchange Finale” or “One Day.” I tried to play with multiple drums patterns to keep the track evolving, as the melody repeats itself during the whole track.
“Abenak” was initially written for Colorscapes Vol 1, a compilation I did on Colorize, which was released last summer. I wanted to capture the summer feeling, while incorporating some dark elements. This track is all about feeling good, dancing, and thinking about summer and the sun especially.
I usually make music for me to play in my sets, as I want to tell a story through them. “Autotron” was a demo track for my set at Electronic Family 2019, which takes place at.. Autotron in the Netherlands! I think it falls right between the listening friendly track and the club stomper. The melody was written using a scale plug-in, then randomly tapping on the keyboard. It’s also one of the first tracks where I used the reversed delay, which seems like one of the signature of this album.
6. Animal (feat. Trove)
The story is very particular. It started as an official remix, which the label decided to not release. However, I kept playing that track in a few sets as a mash-up with Camelphat & Cristoph “Breathe” until I found Trove to put a new vocal on it. The result is a radio friendly track, which still feels underground.
7. Could This Be
“Could This Be” is another demo from the Electronic Family 2019 set. I did this track in a few hours I think. It’s based on a Moog baseline, which I layered three times on the second drop to create that emotional feeling. The track name is a reference to the looping vocal “inside your head.” At the time I was very doubtful about my stuff, which ended in me not playing or releasing several tunes because I felt like people would not like it. This tune is my therapy to say it’s all inside my head and I should keep going. “Could this be? Inside my head?” There’s also a hidden reference to the Noisia track of the same name, which is in the same key and influenced me a bit for this track.
8. Set Your Sails (feat. RBBTS)
I did this track right after I released “To the Ground.” The massive exposure of this track got everyone asking me to do more tracks of the same vein, including the label Colorize. I was so pissed off that I took the “To The Ground” project and just changed the chords and a few synths and sent it to the label with the name “Deja Vu.” They loved it and got RBBTS in the project. When I heard the vocals, I nearly cried of happiness because it took the track to another level, and the lyrics reflected a bit the way I was feeling at the time. “Let’s run away from the voices in your head.” It’s also why it follows “Could This Be” on the album.
It’s an interlude that separates the album from a more melodic side to a darker side, more based on the drums and basses instead of the melody. It takes some elements of the following track “Risen,” which means it could actually be its intro.
I remember I was in the studio, we were having a heatwave in June last year and I was working on this track with 4 fans all around me. I wanted to make a hypnotic track, like if you were walking into a never-ending desert, because that’s what it felt like here ahah! It’s maybe my favorite track on the record because I made it the way I imagined it. It took me a few hours to do the whole track.
11. Artificial (with BT)
Me and Brian (BT) became friends about three years ago when we started working on “The Noetic.” We did two other tracks for his upcoming album and he wanted to have a collaboration on mine. I remember one day I woke up and saw an email from him, sending me a demo of what would later become this track. He told me it was recorded with a 4-tape and some analog synths, and it was sounding very melodic/ techno. I took a whole week and worked the demo into a more club friendly track. I usually play it live with Andain’s “Beautiful Things” because I feel like it fits perfectly. I’m super stocked to have BT on my album; he’s been one of my first influences in trance and electronic music.
We’re talking about my second favorite track of the whole album here. I remember touring in Japan, and while in my hotel room, I composed this track, which I had first started in my studio a few days before leaving. Visiting places and spending a few days there definitely influenced me to finish this track. It’s a very dark and driving track, and ever since I’ve played it in my sets, people have been requesting it. I had to oblige!
13. Night Owl
I first had the instrumental as a demo. I was experimenting with sound design here, creating all the sounds from scratch. While me and the label where looking for some vocals for the other tunes, we had a demo for “The Wave,” which sounded great, but I was already in love with Ava’s vocals. So I took this vocal demo, pitched it down and cut it to create the vocals for this track. It’s the darkest and obscure track on the album. I think it definitely shows my techno and IDM influence there.
Like “Abenaki,” this track was first written for the Colorscapes compilation. It’s one of the first melodic techno influenced tracks I wrote. The main element is the pitched sub bass that keeps moving. I once listened to the demo in my car while driving at night, and well you that’s where the name comes from.
15. The Wave (feat. Ava Silver)
This one started as a remix of “Animal,” as I was not happy about the radio friendly feeling of this track. It was too “happy” for me I guess. So I went and took the vocals, pitched them down and did a new demo. While the label still wanted to release the initial version that is on the album, they loved the instrumental and they searched for some vocals. As explained earlier, there were two contenders for who would be featured on this track and Ava totally delivered it. The vocals sounded so nice and fit the tune perfectly.
16. The Time Has Come
This track is one of the many Prydz mock-up tracks I’ve started back in 2012, when Eric was my idol and I absolutely wanted to sound like him. While searching through projects to finish for the album, I found back this melody idea and told myself “ok, let’s make the 15 years old me happy and finish this tune in Prydz style.” Of course it’s not technically as good as his tunes, but I wanted to have a bit the same elements and feeling, while avoiding copying. Maybe it’s the discount version of Prydz here? There was a huge use of the impOSCar synth, which features a lot of those Prydz-y sounds. It took me 7 years, but I did finish this tune! Thanks for inspiring me Eric.
17. Greatest Thing (feat. Richard Bedford)
The story of this track is hard to believe. In 2013, I was in contact with Richard’s manager at the time, who sent me a few demos to work on a collaboration project. I was so honored and stressed by the project that I couldn’t finish the tracks and we never spoke again really. Last year while going into the album process, I found the stems and decided to play around with it. I did a whole track and chased Richard’s management to send them the tune. Richard absolutely loved it and recorded updated vocals for this track. He totally forgot about this demo as well. It’s very different from the style of the other tracks, it’s a bit more synthwave, inspired by Justice, Kavinsky, Breakbot, M83 and the overall French touch. I tried to bring my touch in this and I’m proud of the result, and even more of having this legendary singer on my album.