Matmos: The Marriage Of True Minds (CD, Thrill Jockey, February 2013)

Matmos have made something of a name for themselves as purveyors of unusual samples (the liner notes for their 1997 debut Matmos featured such gems as “amplified hair, breathing, bowls of water, Polish trains”) and eye-catching concept albums (2001’s A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure was famously built mostly from the sounds of plastic surgery and other medical procedures) while still remaining pretty accessible (there are moments on 2003’s The Civil War which are positively catchy). I find myself wondering whether the increasing intervals between their releases is partly down to the duo feeling the need to top their last offering… Well, it has to be said, with The Marriage Of True Minds, they’ve come up with a doozie. They spent four years performing a variant of the classic ESP Ganzfeld experiment, except that instead of trying to psychically transmit shapes and objects and the like, Drew Daniels attempted to communicate “the concept of the new Matmos record”, which the subjects (including luminaries such as Keith Fullerton Whitman) would then try to relate to M C Schmidt (who did not, and apparently still does not, know what Daniels had in mind). And then the two of them would make what was described. This is kind of awesome. It also guarantees that anyone writing about the record will have chewed out a good couple of hundred words before they even mention the music… Oh. Right. The fact is, I find it a little bit underwhelming. A lot of it strays distressingly into a not-terribly-interesting kind of funky experimental art rock territory, the kind of thing which might play in a basement bar where three people stroke their beards but most people end up gravitating towards the bar. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it seems to be a good deal too ordinary given the concept, and after it’s finished playing I struggle to remember more than a couple of moments from the album.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic.

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