Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Herein lies a multilayered beast, to make real sense of which seems improbable. For starters what does the name of the San Franciscan electronic duo Matmos mean? Is it a Thai dish spelt backwards, a misspelling of a lava lamp brand or is it some kind of slime? Then there is the double meaning of the actual album title: is it a marriage of minds between the Matmos duo or is it a marriage between Matmos and guests that include fuzzed up vocalist and interactive electronic wizard Dan Deacon to Upset the Rhythm artist Ed Schrader and Angel Deradoorian formerly of Dirty Projectors. Oh yeah, and then there's the range of telepathic test subjects, who we'll come to in a bit.
After the release of their underrated 2008 analog synth excursion The Supreme Balloon, Matmos applied their conceptual discipline to collaborations with the So Percussion ensemble and old friends like Lesser and Wobbly. Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt also spent those years conducting parapsychological experiments that became the foundation for The Marriage of True Minds, putting subjects in a state of sensory deprivation and transmitting the concept of the duo's new album to them telepathically. Whether it's the result of the album's lengthy genesis or the time they spent working on more restrained projects, this is the freest Schmidt and Daniel have sounded in some time.
In conversation with Miles Bowe, Drew Daniel (the Soft Pink half of Matmos) said “early on, we did some live versions of [The Marriage of True Minds] when it was totally mysterious and esoteric to people in the audience and they had no idea what we were doing up there or what it was supposed to be about, and people would ask us if it was some kind of Aleister Crowley thing. ” This preoccupation with performance, this antipathy to “basically watching somebody press play,” illuminates an internal division within Matmos’ use of the experiment-frame. As a compositional aid, the experiment-frame marks possible angles of approach; its deployment on-stage becomes a concession to the ASL calisthenics of hype and its justifications.
This album, with the theme of telepathy, follows on the heels of Matmos's excellent The Ganzfeld EP, which was released at the end of 2012, with this effort drawing from the same sensory deprivation experiments. Matmos (aka MC Schmidt and Drew Daniel) conducted as many as 50 of these Ganzfeld experiments over the course of a year. In the session, the participant would lay on a mattress, their eyes covered by a bisected ping pong ball, white noise playing on headphones.
2001's A Chance To Cut is a Chance to Cure is often wheeled out as the best evidence of Matmos's wackiness, and understandably so: an album constructed from recordings of surgical procedures will always invoke a certain morbid curiosity. But considering the many uses of concept across the duo's lengthy discography, it's clear that shock factor is far from Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt's primary concern. 2008's synth-led Supreme Balloon felt like their most conceptually straightforward album in years.
Matmos are serious experimental artists, which means they're also often hilarious. According to the electronic duo, The Marriage Of True Minds is the result of four years of parapsychological experiments in which they deprived participants of sensory inputs and then attempted to telepathically transmit the concept of the album to them, then based the actual songs on their responses. We're pretty sure this is supposed to be funny, but also fairly certain that they actually did all of this (which makes it even sillier).
MatmosThe Marriage of True Minds[Thrill Jockey; 2013]By Ray Finlayson; April 29, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetMusic and science will always have a healthy relationship, or at least until we can fully understand and comprehend what it is that makes us create, enjoy, dislike, and experience music as human beings. The simple answer to those would be love, but like a hippie putting a flower into the barrel of a gun, an emotion doesn’t wish away the problem. Sure, many will testify to making music and enjoying it (or hating it; i.e.
Matmos has made a career-long game of devising increasingly outre frameworks for its records. Half the fun of any new Matmos album, in fact, is in discovering its motivational concept: examination of the sounds of an operating table, for example, or the folk music of the Civil War. And yet the conceit for The Marriage of True Minds, their ninth full-length, just might top them all; if its hypothesis were true, you would hardly need this review to tell you what to expect of it, because you would already know.
The word “weird” has so many negative connotations, though it’s an apt (and 100% positive) label to toss at the San Francisco-turned-Baltimore electronic duo Matmos. Masterminds M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel twisted heads right out the door with their 1998 self-titled debut by sampling the nerve activity of crayfishes (!), and once listeners became desensitized to that, they induced vomiting with recordings of bonesaws and other effects related to liposuction on 2001’s near-perfect A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure.
The duo have brought a more literal sense to the word experimental on this ninth album in that it's based on their pseudo-scientific parapsychological inquiries into telepathy. The band attempted to "transmit the concept of" their 1998 debut album to sensorily deprived subjects and used their descriptions as scores. When that results in music that sounds like music, it's great: this is some of the most idea-dense electronica around.
Madcap San Franciscan duo Matmos have previously created music using the sounds of liposuction, the pages of a Bible turning, the sound of blood in an artery and a cow's preserved uterus. Never a band to do anything the easy way, their latest wheeze involves an experiment in the paranormal. Willing (or perhaps unsuspecting) victims were blindfolded and subjected to barrages of light and noise, and their resulting thoughts and observations used to guide the songwriting.
The catalyst of creation located in the power of psychic persuasion. Spencer Grady 2013 Telepathic roots bloom the strangest fruits and Matmos’ latest yield – even for a duo well versed in the amplified neural activity of crayfish and samples of cosmetic surgical procedure – ranks right up there with their most oddball of audio stunts. The past four years have seen partners Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt hit the lab to conduct their own unique take on the Ganzfeld (“total field”) experiment, used to check participants for extrasensory perception (ESP).
Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt have been crafting often brilliant, occasionally frustrating nouveau musique concrete since the late 1990s. Albums have emerged entirely created from the surgery table (‘A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure’) or from the lives of various queer icons (‘The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast’). ‘The Marriage Of True Minds’ moves beyond that realm and into the murky world of the mental, or, more specifically, the psychic.