As an artist with already a lot of very successful material to his name, Rodriguez Jr.’s debut album Bittersweet is a highly anticipated release. There are in fact many reasons why people should hold their breath for it - an impressive 11 track body of work that features some of the well renowned and loved Rodriguez Jr. sonic traits, as well as a lot of new and previously unchartered musical ground. It simultaneously presents techno, atmospheric dub, hypnotic, melancholy and hands down hedonistic music, and with a focus on exploring textures and moods, there is something here for everyone to get lost in.
Rodriguez Jr., aka Oliver Mateu, was originally introduced to music through radio in the south of France, where he closely followed a selection of 80s bands, as well as forming a strong love for synthesizers. It wasn’t long before he was inspired to start his own group with partner Giles Escoffier ‘The Youngsters’, which quickly signed to Laurent Garnier’s F-Communications, taking them to some of the biggest clubs and festivals around the world. After great success, the project was put on hold and over the last five years Mateu has been given the space to focus more on his solo work and finally the opportunity to create an album.
In spite of his French origins, both Olivier Mateu's artist name and productions lean more towards his father's Spanish roots, with a Mediterranean warmth and party atmosphere often coming to the fore. Bittersweet, however, embodies influences from all over the world. Inspired during recent trips to Japan, Canada and Europe, the voyaging Rodriguez Jr. accompanied by his laptop lay down ideas in hotel rooms after playing in clubs and absorbed the different environments around him into his work. With each country creating a new experience, his touring has played a big part in the variety of tracks that are presented here.
Whilst the spice of Bittersweet was captivated in far away places, the main body of the production of the album was carried out in Mateu’s hidden away studio in Belgium, filled with many loved pieces of analogue gear and synthesizers. Ranging from the Roland TR909, for a classic house drum feel, to the Korg MS10 for dirtier sounds, and a selection of Roland keyboards to choose from, “I am definitely a synth fetishist! Ahaha!” (Rodriguez Jr.). Each has contributed in Rodriguez Jr.’s quest to create an artistic project of the highest quality and creativity that he is capable of, with outstanding results. He has also drawn on the creative input of two musicians who are featured in two of the tracks – And.Id playing his trumpet and Cari Golden’s vocals.
A masterpiece that truly reflects the Rodriguez Jr. of today, it also offers us enough variety and surprise to keep us inspired by this ever-evolving artist. Reflecting on the tracks Bittersweet refers to the contradictory forces at play within the music – it may be beautiful and it may be sweet – but be careful of the party animal it can unleash both in the creator and within all of you present on the dancefloor!
- Tech House