Continuing his monumentous rise in the EDM scene is Matthew Parker with his newest record Shadowlands. While it is his third full-length album, it is his first with a major label and is also the first from the label DROM, a new branch of DREAM Label Group. Parker’s recent ventures include features on David Thulin’s Reconstruction Vol. 2.1 and the Capital Kings’ remix album Remixd. With this record Parker shows why he is a force to be reckoned with and why we should expect to hear his name mentioned in EDM circles for years to come.
Kicking off the album with potent rhythms, eccentric synths, and dynamic beats is “We Go.” This energetic track pumps you up as it challenges you to go and spread the hope of God’s love. “We go ’til the ends of the earth, and you know we go ’til the edge of the world. Ain’t no place too dirty, ain’t no place too dangerous.”
Why do we need to spread hope? Because “to need love is human.” In “Bleeding Hearts,” Parker addresses how “everyone in the world can feel, and everyone is nearly falling apart.” With tranquil melodies and a positive message, this track exemplifies the spirit of EDM music.
Featuring the vocal talent of Anna Criss, the title track is a strong piece complete with mesmerizing lyrics, captivating vocals, and entrancing musicality. “The moon and stars are the only light to tell us that we’re lost in the endless darkness of night.” This song starts to show a recurring theme of feeling lost without the light of God’s presence that permeates the record.
On “Immortal,” Parker teams up with fellow DJ/producer eXecutive Decision for a great dub-laced track. It is chock-full of mind-blowing wobbles, gut-wrenching drops, and erratic synths. Lyrically Parker reminds us that while life on Earth can seem short and trivial, we need to remember that we have a purpose and an eternal life in Jesus. The shortness of our life on Earth is another motif that recurs throughout the album.
“Earth To Sky” slows down the tempo as it turns to a more worshipful tone, exemplifying God’s wonder. While I can’t say I’ve seen the true face of God Himself, I have seen His evidence in the creation He has so magnificently laid out for us to witness and enjoy. As Parker sings, “Fingerprints everywhere, I see you written in the fine print here and there,” take a gander around at the outdoors and ponder the power behind such creativity.
The next track “I Can’t Imagine” keeps the worship vibes going with head-bobbin’ rhythms and uplifting melodies. With one main lyric, “I can’t imagine just how glorious You are. O Lord, you’re amazing,” you can continue to try and envision how truly majestic Jesus is.
“Wherever You Are” returns to the theme of feeling lost without God’s presence. No matter how far gone you may think you are, no matter how long it has been since you may have last prayed or went to church, it doesn’t matter, “Just open wide and call to Him and he will find you.”
The next piece “MouseTrap” first came out as an instrumental over a year ago, but for this album rapper Skrip drops in to lay down a few verses. This track shows Parker’s versatility as it embraces a the EDM sub-genre of trap (rap with electronic influences). While the original title appears more of a pun, Skrip embraces the name as he raps about temptation and Satan’s attempt to catch us in his snares. “The sin in my peripheral trying to be introduced, to become the driving force of living loose while I’m in a noose.”
Taking things in a surprising direction is “All Round De World” as it features raga hip-hop artist St. Matthew and creates a a highly contagious blend of reggae and dubstep. St. Matthew engages the listener as he discusses race and points out that “Black, brown, white we are brothers of each other. In this world, the people of the Lord are one.” Who says you can’t have an intellectual convo while getting down with de rhythm?
Heading into the last chapter of the record, Matthew Parker gives us “Vita Brevis,” an instrumental showcasing his musicality as he combines various rhythms and aggressive synth melodies to create a compelling electro piece. Touching again on the theme from the previous track “Immortal,” the title is Latin for “life is short,” and is taken from an original saying penned by Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. The full saying reads “Life is short, and art long, opportunity fleeting, experience perilous, and decision difficult.” In other words, it can a take a long time to master a craft but we are only given a short time on Earth to do so. While this may seem like a melancholy state of mind, it is a helpful motivation for those (such as myself) that are too often plagued by laziness and procrastination. In the words of Horace, another ancient writer, carpe diem!
“Light Of Dawn” re-engages the trap vibe as rapper Cash Hollistah joins Parker to further expand upon how lost one’s life can be without God’s love present. The darkness may seem imminent, but it’s never too late to pray “I’m tired of my dark, dark life. I can’t stay here anymore. I want the sun to set my soul afire. Show me the way and I’ll walk through the door to the light of dawn.”
Rounding out the record is the trance piece “Take Me Back.” It is another track that expresses a wanting of hope and source of stability. “Take me back to the tie when I looked you in the eyes. It was then that I realized that I could never go alone.” With the irresistible four-on-the-floor heartbeat, elevating synths, and alleviating lyrics Parker delivers a solid track to close out the record.
Shadowlands is the best work to come from Parker, as it shows his versatility with the different sub-genres of EDM and his ability to work with a diverse group of artists. Whether it’s trance or trap or dubstep, Parker has the ability to deliver. It will be exciting to see what doors will continue to open for him as other artists are sure to ask him to remix their tracks – take his recent work (and free download!) on Lecrae’s “Nuthin” for a prime example. Grab a copy of Shadowlands when it releases tomorrow and dance your way into a time of worship, hope, and good times!