News about Matt Martian’s (along with other members of The Internet) solo album came out near the end of 2016 to much buzz since the success of The Internet’s Grammy nominated Ego Death. This news was exciting, The Internet gaining much acclaim for their collaborative and contemporary sound as a team and band. Starting off as a duo of Syd the Kyd and Martians, each showcased a cool perspective for the group and filling out their own sound in the process. With mounting expectations surrounding the group, it only made sense for them to take a short break to focus on creating releases for themselves in attempts to prove what they are capable of. Unfortunately, The Drum Chord Theory is a fair try, probably only just, but at the least a creative work.
Matt Martians is a founding member of the now defunct Odd Future collective, and had played a huge role in the production of many of its project’s music. Martians utilizes, primarily, samples and synthesizers for his beats with bass and guitar sprinkled throughout. His palate of sounds has developed over his discography from just a Korg M3 workstation to collection of synthesizers, showcased on the cover of the album.
The Drum Chord Theory can initially be seen as a sort of sporadic compilation of songs due to its meandering tone and loops that either crossfade into another idea or field recordings of conversations Martians has had. Without context, the album doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the table in terms instrumentation, structure, and the subject matter of its songs. Songs like “Baby Girl,” “Callin’ On Me,” and “What Love Is” all deal with the tried and true subject of navigating the complexities of relationships while “Found Me Some Acid Tonight” encompasses the elation from obtaining drugs in a rather simplistic manner.
However, as one listens to the album more, it becomes more apparent that the album is less of an attempt to share a fresh and progressive perspective on these subjects or to reveal some insane production chops. The Drum Chord Theory does not have a conventional “theme” per say, for the focus of the album is to display Matt Martians, as well as those he holds dear, creativity at the centerpiece of the album. The track list features his friends such as Syd the Kyd, Steve Lacy, Kari Faux, Tyler the Creator, and Tay Dreamin’ throughout who don’t take over the songs, but simply amplify Martians wonky style. The track “Dent Jusay” features other former members of Odd Future on production and vocals, and it isn’t too obvious that Martians isn’t on production. The use punchy drum samples, extended chords, and laidback vocal melodies fall into line with how Matt Martians might go about making a beat. It goes to show the style and mindset that Martians and his friends share, and how even though they are no longer in a project together, they still share ideologies and techniques from developing as artists in Odd Future.
The Drum Chord Theory showcases Martians’s jazz and RnB influenced style of production, his off-kilter and unconventional sense of melody, and the subjects that he finds pertinent to his life right now. The featuring of Martians’s style in an unabashed manner can perceived as off-putting, wonky, and empty, but for those who have followed his discography, The Drum Chord Theory acts as insight into the mind of a figure who has main role is usually in the background who has now gotten the opportunity to be brought to the front. As he states in the bonus track of the album, Elevators, he desired for this project to defy the need for certain expectations surrounding his music, and to show more so to himself that he could make an album mainly by himself for himself.