From the moment that we press play on “Rockaway Girl,” the first of six tracks in Matt Shapiro’s brand new EP Fade In, we’re engulfed in a textured synth distortion that is as heavenly and divine as it is guttural and uncompromising. We chase after the stampeding beats as they evaporate under the command of a spellbinding vocal track from Shapiro, who has never sounded quite as relaxed in the booth as he does in this latest release. After three and a half minutes of captivating rhythm that pulsates like a beating heart that’s just met its match, we fall into “The Addict” and its tension-building grooves. The percussion is gagged, the bassline is muted, but Shapiro still manages to squeeze every drop of melodicism from the arrangement that he can in this wickedly addictive dance track for the ages.
Fade In doesn’t slow down after its first two starry-eyed songs; in “Is There Something Going On?,” Shapiro changes gears slightly and slows down the tempo, allowing for us to bask in the unparalleled sonic glow of the synthesizers before returning to the gritty fire and brimstone of “Johnny,” which sets the second half of the EP ablaze with its bludgeoning bass track. The soft singing is the only beacon of optimistic light that we’ve got to cling to here – the tension that was first teased in “The Addict” comes back at us in full force in this song, only to leave us battered and vulnerable to the ominous attack of “Water’s Edge.”
“Water’s Edge” might be my favorite Matt Shapiro song of all time. Its sprawling arrangement plays out in movements, discharging potently melodic smokescreens with each textured verse and leaving a trail of evocative harmonies in its wake. The first time that I listened to Fade In, I must have replayed this particular track at least three or four times before moving on to the concluding “Geneviève,” in hopes of understanding its hypnotic radiance. I don’t know that I ever will completely, solely because of the fact that Shapiro’s surreal master mix is so boldly psychedelic that trying to decipher it piece by piece would take longer than I can fathom obsessing over a single song.
The sparkling “Geneviève” brings Fade In full circle and gives us a glimpse into the future of Matt Shapiro’s sound that I’m very excited to hear more of. Abandoning the forcefulness of the preceding five tracks, this song pours out of the stereo swaggeringly, only to retreat in a dramatic fade that is as chilling as any of the lyrics that we’ve just consumed are. No matter how discriminating a taste in music you have, this provocative extended play is almost guaranteed to stir your thoughts and leave you begging for more from Shapiro, who has quickly risen to fame inside of the insular New York indie rock scene and is now on the cusp of taking his sound to the international stage. He’s convinced me that his talents are uncontainable, and if you’re curious to know why he’s been attracting as much buzz as he has lately, acquiring a copy of Fade In should be your top priority.