When The Onion A.V. Club asked avant-electronic duo Matmos to cover “I Want Candy,” the classic ’60s stomper made even stompier in the ’80s by Bow Wow Wow, you just knew they were going to twist and tweak it some unexpected ways. But turning it into a homoerotic paean to NSA leaker Edward Snowden? Gentlemen, you’ve outdone yourselves!
WordPress and the A.V. Club’s video player don’t get along, so you’ll have to go over to their site to watch all the fun. Suffice it to say there are shakers, squiggly keyboards and distorted vocals involved. And of course, that sweet, sweet Bo Diddley beat, which for the most part Matmos chose not to fuck with. Some things just can’t be improved upon.
ESP-loving electronic duo Matmos are still out promoting their latest album, The Marriage of True Minds, which they created with the help of volunteers in a psychic powers experiment. We’ve covered this one quite a bit, so we’re all out of psychic jokes, but we can tell you they’ll be performing in Chicago this coming Thursday as part of the Loops and Variations concert series, and later this summer they’ll be at the Hopscotch Festival in North Carolina. We don’t know these things because we’re psychic or anything; we just got the press release. (See? Told you we were fresh out of psychic jokes.)
To keep the True Minds train a-rollin’, Matmos have just released another video from the trippy set. Directed by Matmos’ own M.C. Schmidt, the “Aetheric Vehicle” video is a tangerine dream of spacey synths, ancient Egyptians, and retinal damage from staring at the sun too long.
P.S. If you purchase The Marriage of True Minds via Amazon, you can support both Matmos and TWBITW in one go, thanks to the magic of our Amazon Associates program. For more on how Amazon Associates works, visit our FAQs.
“We’ve played some serious shitholes on this tour,” Matmos‘ M.C. Schmidt said Monday night. “But this is not one of them.”
The man did not fib. The Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a gorgeous space with high vaulted ceilings, great acoustics and extremely uncomfortable chairs. Chairs aside, it was the perfect space in which to soak up the many bizarre sounds put forth by M.C. Schmidt and his partner, Drew Daniel, who were there to perform tracks from their latest album, The Marriage of True Minds, as well as a few old favorites.
Matmos put on a much more entertaining show than you might reasonably expect from two dudes hunched over a couple of folding tables festooned with cables, laptops and vintage synths. Aided by members of their opening band, Horse Lords, on guitar, drums and woodwinds, they cranked out a pretty diverse and dense wall of sounds, including some made by objects one doesn’t normally see at a concert, much less one being held at a cemetery. But more on that in a sec.
Horse Lords—like Matmos, a Baltimore band—set the tone with some highly percussive post-rock that was punctuated Andrew Bernstein’s gloriously noisy, looped saxophone riffs. They weren’t quite as unhinged as Baltimore’s last great noise merchants, the late lamented Ponytail, but you can see where they have the potential to seriously fuck up some shit. No surprise Matmos invited them to serve as both opening act and touring band.
When Matmos took the stage, they were a study in contrasts: M.C. Schmidt looked like a tweedy liberal arts professor, while Drew Daniel was decked out in full punk/industrial/leather daddy regalia, wearing a studded leather Merzbow jacket that probably had several Japanoise fans in the audience wiping drool off their chins.
They began the set with “Very Large Green Triangles,” the lead single (if Matmos has singles) off The Marriage of True Minds. In case you haven’t been keeping up with our many Matmos posts, True Minds is the duo’s possibly serious, possibly tongue-in-cheek attempt to create an entire album using extra-sensory perception: They stuck test subjects in an isolation chamber, then tried to transmit the album to them telepathically. Then they recorded the subjects’ descriptions of what they were seeing and hearing in their isolation-chamber mind-movies and built songs around samples of those descriptions. So “Very Large Green Triangles” is based on a test subject talking about, well, seeing very large triangles. With me so far?
To evoke their mind experiments in a live setting, they had Horse Lords guitarist Owen Gardner narrate “Green Triangles” while wearing opaque glasses and giant headphones. I think we got the extended-due-to-technical-difficulties version of the track, because M.C. Schmidt kept fidgeting with the onstage sound board and making “What the fuck?” faces for about five minutes before his keyboard would emit any sound. Sucked for him, I’m sure, but it actually turned the song into an even cooler, more epic jam than it is on record.
They followed that up, fittingly, with their cover of the Buzzcocks’ “E.S.P.”, in which Drew Daniel did a nice job channeling his Merzbow jacket into a throat-shredding lead vocal. Side note: Turns out it’s very hard to head-bang while wearing glasses. Drew kept having to hold his hand over his Warby Parkers to keep them from flying off into the audience, where they no doubt would have been used to barter him out of his Merzbow jacket.
I thought they might play more stuff from True Minds, but instead, they went right into “Lipostudio” from their surgery-sampling 2001 album, A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure. To recreate the liposuction sounds from the studio track (“recorded right here in Los Angeles!” M.C. cheerfully noted), M.C. Schmidt blew what appeared to be a duck call and a small flute into a bowl of water. The effect was both cooler and grosser-sounding than you might expect.
Next came the balloons. Oh, the balloons. I’m not sure what album this track was taken from, but it was hilarious and totally magical. If there is such a thing as a balloon maestro, then M.C. Schmidt is surely one.
Did I mention the visuals? Ah, the visuals. These guys know how to keep an electronic music show interesting. Then again, they’ve played with Björk, so you’d expect nothing less.
Matmos finished their set with a song from their 19th-century-folk-inspired album, The Civil War, which was a jaunty way to finish the show. There was whistling and something that I think was an autoharp. Until you hear them string together songs from throughout their six-odd-album career, it’s easy to forgot how insanely diverse Matmos’ catalog is. It could all easily be the work of four or five completely different groups.
Drew and M.C. wrapped things up with one of those encore-but-not-really moments when the band makes like they’re going to leave the stage, but then just mills around for a few minutes before someone finally grabs a mic and asks the usually rhetorical question, “Do you guys wanna hear one more?” (Just to be clear: I love when bands do this. Fuck the encore, stay up there and keep playing, dammit!) In response to Drew’s query, “Lounge or disco?”, the crowd wisely and lustily replied, “Disco!” So we got treated to a little Matmos-style thumpy-thumpy before having to walk back through the cemetery to our cars, which was a nice way to end a memorable evening. It would’ve been more memorable if we could’ve actually danced instead of just rocking back and forth in those uncomfortable chairs, but let’s not get greedy.
P.S. Many thanks to our buddy Phil for supplying the additional photos. And to Gary for the extra ticket. And to everyone who helped score me a seat in the second row. I am telepathically transmitting warm fuzzy feelings to you all.
Matmos‘ ESP-inspired album The Marriage of True Minds finally arrives this Tuesday (Feb. 19th)—but you can stream the whole thing now, courtesy of the folks at Pitchfork. Thanks, Pitchfork! You just saved us the trouble of writing an album review. Now we can spend our Sunday as the Good Lord intended: drinking wine and watching Downtown Abbey reruns.
Instead of reviewing The Marriage of True Minds, we shall instead be bringing you an in-depth account of the L.A. date of Matmos’ current U.S. tour, which takes place Monday, Feb. 25th at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Yes, in Hollywood, even the cemeteries get turned into entertainment venues eventually. We’re just that shallow and hedonistic.
We’ll leave you with this spooky Marriage of True Minds preview video. Listening to music like this in a cemetery might leave scar us for life, but it’s a chance we’re willing to take.
We here at Weird Band HQ have been counting down the days until the Feb. 19th release of The Marriage of True Minds, the ESP-inspired album from avant-electronica duo Matmos. Now we’ll also be counting down the days until we get to see them perform here in L.A. at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Will they read the minds of the dead? With these dudes, anything is possible.
Stick around after the tour dates for a taste of Matmos’ current live incarnation, which features live guitar and drums and, fittingly, a cover of the Buzzcocks’ “E.S.P.” Also: ducks. I bet if you could read their minds, they be saying, “More worms, please!”
Matmos tour dates:
Mon. Feb. 11 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge *
Tue. Feb. 12 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
Wed. Feb. 13 – Montreal, QC @ Il Motore *
Thu. Feb. 14 – Toronto, ON @ TBA *
Fri. Feb. 15 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
Sat. Feb. 16 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center *%
Tue. Feb. 19 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir ^
Wed. Feb. 20 – Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s ^
Thu. Feb. 21 – Vancouver, BC @ Media Club *
Sun. Feb. 24 – San Francisco, CA @ Public Works *
Mon. Feb. 25 – Los Angeles, CA @ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery *
Thu. Feb. 28 – Austin, TX @ The ND
Sat. Mar. 2 – Louisville, KY @ ZBar
Wed. Mar. 6 – Baltimore, MD @ TBA
* w/ Horse Lords
% w/ Josef Van Wissem
^ w/ Mouse on Mars
Matmos‘ ESP-inspired Ganzfeld EP comes out today and although we’re not psychic, we’re pretty sure many readers of this blog are gonna dig it. We’ll have a full review soon (in addition to not being psychic, we also have really poor time management skills) but in the meantime, we hope you’ll feast your third eye on the video for the EP’s opening track, “Very Large Green Triangles,” which was shot by l.inc design after they consulted telepathically with Matmos (i.e. they didn’t actually consult Matmos). It’s every bit as trippy as any self-respecting Matmos fan might hope for. And yes, it features lots and lots of Very Large Green Triangles.
You can buy The Ganzfeld EP in various deluxe incarnations here.
It’s been awhile since we heard anything from Matmos, the electronica duo who earned a spot on The Weird List for their early experimental albums based on sampling the sounds of Civil War-era instruments and surgical procedures. They’ve released lots of great music since then, but never really outdone themselves in the weirdness department. Until now.
For their latest project, Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt have attempted to build their music around a series of experiments in telepathy. Sticking test subjects in a sensory deprivation chamber, they’ve then attempted to have Daniel telepathically transmit “the concept of the new Matmos record,” then recorded the subjects as they describe whatever sounds or images they may be experiencing. If this sounds batshit crazy…well, it probably is. But no crazier than turning the sounds of a bone-saw into a minimal techno groove.
Anyway, Matmos just released the first track from this experiment, “Very Large Green Triangles,” which you can hear below. It’s one of three songs that will be featured on an EP due out this October called The Ganfeld EP, to be followed by a full-length album, The Marriage of True Minds, sometime in early 2013. Befitting its source material, The Ganfeld EP will be available in a deluxe version that includes a pair of Incase headphones and the same little sensory-deprivation goggles those test subjects wore.
No word yet on whether Daniel and Schmidt will tour in support of The Marriage of True Minds. But if they do, we really hope there’s a part of the show where they just stare at the audience very intently in total silence for 10 minutes. Then announce that they just played “California Rhinoplasty.”
Sometimes here at TWBITW, we like to get on down with our bad selves. And by “bad,” we mean, “in no fit state to be getting on down with anything, unless it’s a couch or a mattress with good lumbar support.” Still, we do try to give the old carcasses a little wiggle every once in awhile. And there’s nothing more fun to wiggle to (or easier, especially for us white folks) than a some good old-fashioned boot-in-a-dryer music. We’re talking techno*, people!
This time around, I’ve decided to annotate the playlist a bit. So read on to learn more about the 14 artists and tracks represented in this mix—and while you’re reading, fire up the ol’ Spotify and see if you’re capable of dancing and reading at the same time. I bet you can do it.
*And related genres of EDM. Don’t get all purist on us, k?
1. The Soft Pink Truth, “Soft Pink Missy.” SPT is Drew Daniel, one-half of the experimental electronic duo Matmos. His stuff is often filed under “microhouse,” all of which sounds pretty weird—but Daniel is especially adept at constructing dance tracks built out of tiny edits from all sorts of sampled material. I figured this was a nice, gentle way to ease y’all into some of the harder stuff coming.
2. The Vegetable Orchestra, “Pumpkin Jam” (Märtini Brös remix). A not-so-weird track, until you realize that most of it was created using instruments made out of vegetables. Märtini Brös, the German duo who did the remix, have created some pretty weird dance tracks of their own, including this one.
3. Greenskeepers, “Man in the House” (GK 911 remix). This Chicago house/electro-pop group makes many songs with a twisted sense of humor, most famously “Lotion,” a bouncy New Wave jam narrated by Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. This one isn’t quite that weird, but it’s got a fun beat.
4. Justin Martin and Sammy D, “The Southern Draw.” This one takes awhile to get going, but stay with it, and it gets wacky, trust me. It’s from the Dirtybird label, which releases a lot of terrific, offbeat techno—but nothing more offbeat than this.
5. Oli Chang, “Chicken Techno.” I’m pretty sure this one needs no explanation.
7. Von Südenfed, “Flooded.” A collaboration between the German experimental electronic duo Mouse on Mars and Mark E. Smith from The Fall—who turns out to be a surprisingly excellent dance music vocalist, at least in small doses. No, this isn’t strictly speaking techno, but it fucking rocks. And no, it’s not dubstep, either. Can we all please agree that not everything with a dark, twisted bassline is dubstep? Thank you.
8. Anklepants, “Deadline 4734 vs. Inside Your Face” (Imposex mix). We just featured this guy as our Weird Band of the Week. At first I was mostly just fascinated with his creepily lifelike monster mask, but the more I listen to his music, the more I’m digging it. He’s not really techno either, and I’m not even sure you can dance to this stuff, but it’s amazing.
9. Laibach, “Wirtschaft” (Richie Hawtin Hardcore Noise Mix). One of the greatest techno producers of all time, Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman), turns one of the weirdest industrial bands of all time into a jam for the ladies. That is, if those ladies like slam-dancing in steel-toed boots.
10. Underworld, “Moaner.” Underworld are one of those bands that became so popular, it’s easy now to forget how totally fucking wackadoodle even many of their best-known tracks are. This isn’t even their wackiest, but I think it’s one of their most underrated, with an insanely building synth line and Karl Hyde declaiming his surrealist raver poetry like a man possessed. God, they were so good back in the day.
11. Matthew Herbert, “February.” A British producer known for building his tracks out of field recordings of everything from bodily functions to household objects, Herbert released his weirdest and most controversial work last year: One Pig, an album of abstract musique concrete built from the sounds of the life cycle of a commercially raised pig, from birth to slaughter to dining table. On this track, from late in the album, you can hear butcher’s saws and the sounds of percussion instruments made out of the pig’s bones. It’s sort of the opposite of Vegetable Orchestra—and while I admit it’s pretty disturbing stuff, it kinda makes you crave bacon, doesn’t it?
12. Gangpol & Mit, “Balatchi Basketcha.” This track is about as close as the French kitschtronica duo G&M ever come to techno—and still, it’s less clubby, more Saturday-morning-cartoony, if Shag ever did Saturday morning cartoons. How awesome would that be?
13. Twink, “Slush Bunny.” Toy piano techno. You’re welcome, humanity!
14. Sir Ivan, “San Francisco” (John Kano radio mix). Yes, is the second playlist we’ve ended with Sir Ivan, but you know what? Fuck it. There’s something about his cheesy house/techno remakes of classic hippie songs that just seems like a fitting grand finale to an hour’s worth of weirdness. Such a strange vibration!
Hope you enjoy the playlist. If you do, tell a friend.
Hi, kids. Jake here, finally delivering y’all a playlist with some balls. Also, some power tools, Tuvan throat singing and field recordings of surgical procedures. That’s how I roll.
ShareMyPlaylists is thwarting me and not recognizing half these tracks, so here’s a direct link to the full playlist on Spotify. You’ll get 20 whole tracks of skull-crushing, ear-diddling insanity:
1. Lightning Bolt, “Assassins”
2. Fantomas, “Page 28″
3. Deerhoof, “The Great Car Tomb”
4. The Locust, “Who Wants a Dose of the Clap?”
5. Nimrod, “Ripsnort”
6. Arrington de Dionyso, “Susu Naga”
7. The Residents, “Smelly Tongues”
8. Captain Beefheart, “Skeleton Makes Good”
9. White Mice, “Passsthefissst”
10. Kylie Minoise, “Corpse Sex Show Outrage!”
11. Genocide Organ, “Genocide”
12. Iwrestledabearonce, “Alaskan Flounder Basket”
13. Yip-Yip, “California Fart”
14. Justice Yeldham, “300104 Hamburg”
15. Einsturzende Neubauten, “Negativ Nein”
16. Cabaret Voltaire, “News From Nowhere”
17. Cattle Decapitation, “Gestation of Smegma”
18. Goatwhore, “Sacrament of Emptiness and Despair”
19. Otto Von Schirach, “Septic Sewer Soup”
20. Matmos, “L.A.S.I.K.”
Management not responsible for lost or damaged hearing. Happy listening!
Drew Daniel and Martin “M.C.” Schmidt began working together as Matmos in the mid-’90s, when the IDM (that’s “Intelligent Dance Music,” for all you non-geeks) movement was in full swing and lots of nerdy dudes with computers and synths were pushing electronic music into some interesting and arty new directions. In that crowded field, Matmos didn’t immediately stand out; then they released an album in 2001 called A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure and it became clear that this wasn’t just another couple of Autechre wannabes.
If you want to get all highbrow about it, A Chance to Cut is a musique concrete album: Its sounds were created almost entirely by sampling the audio associated with various surgical procedures, everything from the slurps and squelches of liposuction to the percussive taps and scrapes against a brain surgery patient’s skull. Somehow, though, Daniel and Schmidt convert this raw material into music that’s playful, melodic and almost jaunty. Around the same time, the duo was also invited by Björk to work on her Verspertine album and subsequent world tour, which raised their profile significantly.
After that experience, Matmos did what any newly semi-famous electronic act would do: They released a concept album called The Civil War that mainly used banjos, strings, fife and drum, and various other old-timey instruments for a series of songs based on both the American Civil War and the English Civil War of the 16th century. It was all run through the same Matmos blender of digital loops, processors and effects, but the result sounded far more like a chopped ‘n’ screwed Ken Burns soundtrack than what you’d expect from two proven masters of cutting-edge electronica.
Since then, Daniel and Schmidt have returned to more “standard” electronic fare, releasing two more albums—2006′s The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast and 2008′s Supreme Balloon—that rely almost entirely on vintage synthesizers (and no microphones, as proudly stated in Supreme Balloon‘s liner notes). But they remain, for our money, one of the weirdest electronic music acts in the business. You never really know what these guys have in store for us next.
Here’s the video for “Lipostudio…And So On,” the track from A Chance to Cut that uses sound samples from liposuction. We’re not too crazy about the video, but it gives you a chance to hear what a disturbingly queasy effect Matmos achieves with all squishing and slurping.