Matmos at the Empty Bottle | Concert preview
Parapsychological experiments guide the duo’s Thrill Jockey debut.
M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel of Matmos conducted four years of experiments to make their new record, The Marriage of True Minds. To those familiar with the long-running outfit, perhaps best known for its work on Björk’s Vespertine and Medúlla, this probably comes as no surprise. After all, since the late ’90s the real-life couple has sliced and spliced recordings of everything from the sound of liposuction to rhinestones on a dinner plate to create its highly conceptual, rhythmic compositions.
The pair’s first LP in five years, and its debut for local imprint Thrill Jockey, is built upon an entirely new set of parameters. Using parapsychological experiments as a starting point, Matmos isolated the senses of test subjects by covering their eyes and feeding them white noise through headphones. Daniel then telepathically transmitted the concept behind the album to the participants, who were asked to describe anything seen or heard “within their minds” as the transmission took place. When it came time to craft the album, that source material was translated into melodies and arrangements, often leading to unorthodox instrumentation. If a subject described movement, Schmidt and Daniel reenacted it and recorded the sounds made in the process.
Is it sort of exhausting to have to know all of this to fully get a Matmos record? Some might say yes. But the duo’s oddball oeuvre is far more compelling when its unpredictable processes are fully understood.