Album: The Marriage of True Minds
Record Label: Thrill Jockey
A brilliantly crafted masterclass in the unexplained
It is said (and on a sociologically pious note, proven by society almost every day) that we fear most what we don't understand. This interpersonal sensitivity is not something that needs to be explained to M.C. Mike Schmidt and Daniel Drew (the duo who make up Matmos) however. As a prospect who have consistently maintained an unbreakable enigma throughout their entire career, even in their characters in interviews, they have become representatives of that very senstivity in a musical outlet.
Initial reactions to the title of their new album, "The Marriage of True Minds" may be that it is a fairly narcissistic statement of intent. Are Matmos finally attempting to make us understand them? In many ways yes, but in many other ways no. Every song here is absolutely packed with ideas. So dextrous, so complex are the designs thrown together here that even after a good handful of listens it's hard to tell what's going on and when. It seems that all the ideas incorporated here are deliberately styled by the duo to expose exactly what it is that makes them tick, even if the finished whole is still dizzyingly strange.
"Very Large Green Triangles" is full of hellish, demonic melodies, unnerving vocal choirs and freakish piano and synth arpeggios. "Mental Radio" is 3 and a half minutes of monstrously ambidextrous percussion that doesn't really include any musical element until the spontaneous bursts of brass in the final minute or so. "Ross Transcript" isn't even musical; instead it's a wedding of excessively bizarre samples, low, ominous bass rumbles and weird static.
The more musical moments here are just as impacting in the same strange but intricately wholesome way. "Tunnel" is half delirious electro funk, half acid house driven by a digeridoo. "Teen Paranormal Romance" offers some respite from the mystical onslaught with its serene nature and beautiful synth flourishes. The album concludes on an 8- minute covers of The Buzzcocks' "ESP" which includes Black Metal howls, marching drums and doom soaked guitar and keyboard chords, before exploding into an effervescent anthem at the end.
The key thing about "The Marriage of True Minds" is how exceptionally well crafted and thought out it is. It's a small glimpse into the modus operandi of Matmos, but not one that exposes any of the atmosphere that makes them so magical. A marriage of true minds indeed.
Key tracks: ESP, Tunnel, Teen Paranormal Romance
For fans of: Zammuto, Black Dice, The Books