Madteo may have first come to your attention with his single for Workshop back in 2010, or maybe earlier, through his collaboration with leftfield rapper Sensational on Lanquid Music. The fact is, while his presence on the scene makes eminent sense in 2013—a time when the resolute outsider holds considerable sway in dance music circles—Matteo Ruzzon has been around since before that narrative took hold, and will likely continue to be long after it subsides.
It makes sense then, that as eccentric takes on house and techno become the norm, the New York-based Italian should take a further step into the unknown. Sähkö, the Finnish label best known for releasing austere electronics from the likes of Mika Vainio, is an unexpected place for the producer's second LP to end up. But Ruzzon seems to take his newfound home as an opportunity to continue his recent move away from the dance floor towards a far knottier, more multi-faceted aesthetic.
That's not to say that Noi No doesn't feature its fair share of dance floor numbers—albeit obtuse, treacly ones. "Dead Drop (When I Saw You That Nite)" and the exquisite "Tanti, Maledetti e Sempre" both have something of the essence of New York house, buried under layers of soupy pads and scattergun hi-hats. But there are just as many moments when the kick drum functions as an adjunct to some stranger process, as in the murky, dead-eyed "Il Capoline," or "Rugrats Don't Techno For An Answer"'s marvellously unexpected Drake samples. Often drums exit the frame altogether, leaving skeletal but surprisingly sensual synth workouts in their wake.
But for all this variety, Ruzzon is no genre tourist. Binding these tracks together is his inimitable sense of pacing, a stop-start approach to laying out material that rejects conventional narrative development in favour of intriguing, mirage-like stasis. Even more than that, it's Ruzzon's personality that coheres this album, given form in his near-omnipresent voice—a languid rasp intoning surreal puns ("What are you reading? The Wall Street Urinal?" he asks in "Il Capoline"), supplying sultry commentary ("Dead Drop"'s monologue recalls Savage's spectral contribution to Rhythm & Sound's "Smile"), or, in perhaps the record's deranged peak, forming the sole material for an entire six-minute track, stuttered and looped into a playful mantra ("Vox Your Nu Yr Resolution").
Playful is the word—everything Ruzzon touches takes on a wry edge, a certain mordant humour that doesn't undermine its sincerity. Over Noi No's 11 tracks, he harpoons the notion that challenging music can't be sexy: this record is both baffling and stylish, cryptic and effortlessly seductive.