We're now just about halfway through 2012 and there is still no sign of Hackman's debut LP (a release we were told was "forthcoming" as early as September of last year). Fortunately, the UK tunesmith has not vanished, issuing his second collaborative work of the past three months with a single for the newly minted Deadplate imprint, an effort featuring production assistance from London newcomer Bluto.
"What Matters" is clearly a tune made for summer. Laced with cool, calm marimba chords and a rounded bassline that moves along in perfect synchronization, the track patiently rolls along—it's one of the mellowest 130-plus bpm house songs you're likely to hear this season. The chord progression is classic Hackman—part UK-house, part Jamie xx, incredibly anthemic, and somehow almost uplifting. As to be expected, every kick, snare, and piece of percussion is in its right place, occasionally skittering or rolling to move to the next section or gradually notch up the energy level. And yes, there's a vocal, but it's completely superfluous, merely there to signify a certain place in the song or occasionally pop through the sweet mass of chords. If it was just for the aforementioned elements, this track would feel a little too calculated. Sure, the progression is nice and "What Matters" moves with a familiar flow, but really there's nothing particularly jaw-dropping about it. Still, Hackman and Bluto do manage to lace the track with one unexpected element—a tribal flute sample that is pitched, warped, and layered to add just the right touch of unexpected movement. The breathy sample floats atop the progression without really being at the forefront, but because of its unexpected nature and the catchy melodies the producers weave with it, the flute serves as the most distinct characteristic of "What Matters" and helps prevent the song from simply fading away into the ever-growing pool of summer-minded UK house tracks.
Rising Londoner James Fox is tapped for the remix on the flipside, infusing the song with considerably more shuffle and peeling back its warm, summer vibes for somehing more oriented towards indoor, nightime clubbing. Hackman and Bluto's chords are cut short in this rework, rendered more as stabs that blast around the beat, with occasional traces of the original's marimbas affected and delayed in the background. Together, these two tracks make for a pretty versatile 12", and although neither are likely to make the dancefloor bubble over, they sure aren't going to scare anyone away either. As far as Hackman's output goes, we're happy to keep gobbling up these few singles and EPs as they come up, but we've still got our fingers crossed that the man's debut LP is not too far off.