NoGi Friday is the moniker of Fort Worth (TX) artist/producer, Matthew Hightower. Mathew, whose interests include science, physics, philosophy, spirituality, meditation and yoga has dropped his 12 track album, entitled, “In Search Of Ox”. He has come up with an album that to my knowledge exists in an abstract realm that few other producers try to explore. It is both chaotic and beautiful. Random yet ordered. Subtle yet obvious. Brooding and thoughtful, yet bright and focused. Trying to make too much specific sense of the songs, however, is a pointless exercise. This is music you just sit and listen to, letting it wash over you, taking you in the direction it wants to take you. Every song on here is beautiful, and transports you to a different place, a place that only exists in the deepest recesses of your mind.
I’m not sure if this was the desired effect by NoGi Friday, but it seems to be the effect on most people who actually ‘listen’ to it. Whether you like it or not comes down to the question of why you listen to instrumental electronic music. If you’re looking for the ‘get up and dance’ stuff, then look elsewhere.
If however you have a penchant for ambient and downtempo with experimental flavoring, you’ve knocked at the right door. This is a very life-like album, and a most vibrant work, churning with visceral energy and textures. There is an overload of audial activity yet it is never too chaotic or abstract.
“In Search Of Ox” possesses melody, rhythm, harmony, and all the supposed fundamentals of what defines conventional music, and it taps on the primal forces at the origin of those elements. Beautiful, through-provoking, and undeniable, NoGi Friday sculpts those elements into auditory art, and a moving wall of sound.
From when the album opens with “Circle Up”, the song structures form, dismantle and then reforming into newer and more fantastic motifs, lumbering on to continue their kaleidoscopic metamorphosis.
These are things of pulsing beauty.
It is when you encounter tracks like “Something Rather Than Nothing”, the poignant “Do Nothing” and “Not Knowing”, or the brilliantly euphoric “Let Go” and the rhythmically playful “Loc 540”, that you realize this album has a mind and a conscience, but most importantly, it has a heart that pulses and beats from beginning to end.
The range NoGi Friday gets out his synth sounds is staggering. You can feel his sense of discovery as he pushes and pulls the parameters. He navigates around these songs providing clarity, a sense of scale and structure, as he closes in on “Perceiving The Ox” and “Cessation”. The latter being a track where ambient sounds and melodies are layered underneath an intense and busy percussive rhythm.
Electronica has got a bad rep for being unemotional and annoyingly repetitive. Each of the incredible twelve soundscapes here is unique. Collectively, though, they retain a quality that gives the album cohesion. This is galvanizing, cerebral ambient and downtempo music. It is NoGi Friday at his best.