The Audio Anarchist Cookbook
Being a one-of-a-kind experience in music is almost always a great thing, even if the experience is not in and of itself “great” music. This holds true here, as well, in the case of the newest offering from Matmos, entitled The Marriage of True Minds. Many of the sounds, collages, arrangements and approaches presented here by primary members Martin C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel (along with a host of contributors including the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley) are of a highly unique nature, which have many of the tenets of classic experimental greatness, weird though they may be.
However, it seems almost comical to suggest the special quality this album holds has very little to do with the idea of its songs being “good” in any conventional sense of the word. Leaving nods to everything from quirky trance styling to the avant-garage of early Pere Ubu, Matmos have clearly compressed an amalgamation of influences into this seriously strange, but overwhelmingly compelling, record.
The tracks that bookend this record—the opener, “You,” along with the closer, “ESP”—represent the kind of boundaries that are at play, and in essence, there are none. The former, with its quirky de-tuned piano hammers and pitter-patter percussion, feels like relatively by-the-book, atmospheric music before allowing disparate elements like dual narrative vocals and a dingy, shrieking saxophone line to enter the fray. When the female vocal intones over and over, “From the other side,” you might have this anticipation of an almost serene dream-like status. Once balanced against “ESP,” however, which seems to share a general thread of relation with the former, you suddenly get a far different picture. Beginning dirge-like with a vocal that sounds like Black Flag-era Dez Cadena stuck in one of Dante’s seven circles, all the while being surrounded by punishing distorted guitars, “ESP” is a force that rattles and rages in and out of different moods, before settling down into a pretty straightforward and beautifully simple denouement which at final breath declares, “So think.”
The in-betweens of this album are equally interesting, if not quite jarring, as the dichotomy between the two bookends of the album. “Mental Radio” builds an infectious groove highlighted by one of the best (and one of the only?) examples of water-slosh percussion ever committed to tape. “Teen Paranormal Romance,” might be the most pop-leaning track here, as it twists and turns with playful synthesizer work and takes a little edge off the brunt nature “Ross Transcript,” which, while interesting in its own sort of Faust-meets-Pere Ubu way, is not a necessity when it comes to careful, repeated listenings.
The album is quite a statement on many levels and would likely stick out in any crowd, if, of course, there was a peer to be found for this type of music. In 2013, things do not get much stranger or more interesting than the aural concoctions these two artists and their fellow audio anarchists have cooked up, and though its tune might not get stuck in your head, one surely will not forget the experience.