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Matmos: “Rainbow Flag”

From the album Supreme Balloon (2008)

The American electronica group Matmos is anchored by the duo M. C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, who form the nucleus of a protean musical collective that has enjoyed the collaboration of many illustrious musicians, including Björk, Sun Ra collaborator Marshall Allen, and vintage electronics guru Keith Fullerton Whitman.

Matmos made a name for themselves beginning in the late 1990s with their imaginative and exquisitely musical collages of recorded sounds. Combining rigorous sonic empiricism with a Dada-esque search for the absurd, the group’s self-assembled catalog of samples reads like a Borgesian taxonomy of the bizarre:

Amplified crayfish nerve tissue, the pages of bibles turning, water hitting copper plates, liposuction surgery, cameras and VCRs, chin implant surgery, contact microphones on human hair, rat cages, tanks of helium, a cow uterus, human skulls, snails, cigarettes, cards shuffling, laser eye surgery, whoopee cushions, balloons, latex fetish clothing, rhinestones, Polish trains, insects, life support systems, inflatable blankets, rock salt, solid gold coins, the sound of a frozen stream thawing in the sun, a five gallon bucket of oatmeal.

Having built their reputation on their skillful deployment of “found sounds,” Matmos took a surprising turn with their 2008 album Supreme Balloon, which eschews meticulous sample-work for the lush, rubbery tones of old-school synthesizers and drum machines. (The album comes with the disclaimer “no microphones were used at any point.”) Among the diverse menagerie of instruments heard here are the mysterious “Electronic Voice Instrument” and the one-of-a-kind Coupigny modular synthesizer housed at the studios of INA-GRM in Paris.

The catchy and charming flavor of Supreme Balloon is at times reminiscent of the music of Felix Kubin. But there are plenty of proverbial razor blades in this colorful candy, and more than enough sonic weirdness to avoid alienating devotees of their earlier and more experimental work.

Played 205 time(s).

October 07, 2012, 9:40pm

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