Matmos – The Marriage Of True Minds (Thrill Jockey Records)
Experimental electronic duo Matmos have gained recognition for their use of many varied sounds. Paul Scott-Bates took up the challenge of listening to their new album.
On this, the ninth album from Baltimore based Matmos, it would appear that almost every recording effect, every sound and every idea has been used on The Marriage Of True Minds. If you want originality, then this album is where to stop the bus.
Aside from their 2010 collaboration with So Percussion, this is the first new Matmos album for five years and it seems it’s been well worth the wait.
A wistful piano and ‘that’ clicky little beat is the opening to You. ‘That’ clicky little beat almost sounding like a spoon player. An American female voice enters and talks about telepathy (possibly). ‘That’ clicky little beat then turns into possibly a sampled version of a ‘tut’ with the occasional water drip, interesting. We then maybe have the sound of air being released from a balloon or a kazoo being blown which spirals upward into an orchestral finale in a similar vein to the ending of The Beatles’ A Day In The Life. Versions of handclaps and then a whistling kettle? Ending at little over seven minutes it’s an interesting start to an album and gives an insight as to how many experimental and unique sounds will appear.
Track two, Very Large Green Triangles is a bit of a monster. Starting with groaning male vocals repeating itself before a deep thumping piano and orchestral sounding strings enter getting louder and fiercer with random crashes throughout, before some sort of echoing xylophone and tuneless tinkling piano with an almost clockwork melody. If you’ve ever heard Pimpf by Depeche Mode, you could liken the vocals to that. The words then metamorphose into something more tuneful but still quite indistinguishable – is it words or just sounds? Who cares? I could sit here all day mentioning all the differing sounds used on this album, sounds that maybe any other artist would spread over several albums, but instead, Matmos transfer every weird effect they could possibly have from their heads to the recording.
You know when you see someone slap the sides of their face and make different sounds come out of their mouth? Oh, just me then. Well, Mental Radio starts with a sound like that, and some splashing water too, like kids jumping in puddles. Like you do. A Cuban percussion and sounds that I really can’t distinguish. An interlude with a triangle and a party going on. I’m not sure my brain will slow down, it’s forever jumping from one thing to another. Incredibly engaging stuff. Police sirens and a screaming saxophone all crammed into three and a half minutes. Please excuse me whilst I go and have a lie down.
I’ll admit, somewhat reluctantly, that Ross Transcript does little for me. Sounding like a radio being tuned in, the stop-off points are varied, but it isn’t cohesive and at two and a half minutes it’s probably two minutes too long. Teen Paranormal Response is quite poppy and uplifting after its predecessor.
Tunnel reminds me of a cross between Oh Yeah and The Race by Yello in quite a number of ways. Do I win a prize? I’m convinced there are samples and lines from the aforementioned tracks here, it’s pacey with a Jewish Harp (of course!) and is almost like listening to a Yello remix. Full of energy and one of the most accomplished tracks on the album. Marvellous stuff complete with closing cough.
In Search Of A Lost Faculty is Yoko Ono esque. Very minimalist with quotes about triangles. At times like Scott Walker’s Bosch for originality. Aetheric Vehicle although containing some nice dubbed out shimmers is again slightly too long before album finale, ESP, arrives. More shouty vocals, crashes, guitar feedback and then, well, a perfect pop melody. Like two tracks stuck together, ending as a complete opposite to the way the album begins.
If you like your music taxing and provoking, then this album is for you. Brimming with originality and a delight to listen to.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is Heaven Is A Place On Pendle. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.