A Sonic Contamination
Furthering the conversations and ideas around durability, sustainability and destruction, Matmos’s new experimental record, Plastic Anniversary, is fearless as it dives into its strange and eccentric roots. Commemorating the duo’s 25th anniversary as a couple, Martin Schmidt and Drew Daniel go to the extremes in creating an entire album derived from the sounds of plastic objects–an extension from their previous laundry machine based record Ultimate Care II.
The album itself is a clear indication of two minds so abundantly equipped in the art of sound and audio. The crispiness and quality of the resonances they use are almost ASMR like. Opening with “Breaking Bread,” recordings of shards of vinyl are met with syncopated percussion. Then, tracks like “Silicone Gel Implant” and “Collapse Of The Fourth Kingdom” impress in their exotic beat samples and unidentifiable sources for commotion. Turns out this commotion is rubbery melodies from a breast implant and drum lines from LEGO pieces clicking into place.
There are lots of different moods in this record. “The Crying Pill” sounds ghostly as high-pitched sounds and detuned plastic horns simulate a vivid childish nightmare. “Interior With Billiard Balls & Synthetic Fat” changes to a visual soundscape with actual billiard ball audio samples leading to tangy riffs. Similar to Mac Quayle’s soundtrack in the TV show Mr. Robot, the song is like a mysterious watery and digital intrusion into your brain. “Extending The Plastisphere To GJ237b” is only an 11-second song, yet Matmos manages to create alienated robot sounds that one can only dream of. In fact, no one can replicate the sounds used here, and this may be why the Sonar Festival launched this song into space to another exoplanet.
The powerhouse song “Plastic Anniversary” begins with plastic poker chips falling. These noises are eventually met with lots of distorted airy noises and synthetic horns, similar to the tones of Sarah Louise and Bon Iver. The percussive sounds are truly rich in tempo variation and repetition, and celebration of the couple’s achievements, the beat rumbles forward. There is no doubt Matmos has perfected the craft of gluing together recordings like a jigsaw puzzle.
“Thermoplastic Riot Shield” sounds like the product of an Oneohtrix Point Never and Arca collaboration. The rubbing of actual riot police gear results in glitchy mechanical sounds over deep bass pulsations. Schmidt and Daniel delve deeper into the world of hyper-sensualized audio in “Fanfare For Polyethylene Waste Containers.”
What makes Plastic Anniversary so enthralling is how visual of an album it is. “The Singing Tube” exhibits creaking sounds and clacks placing you at the forefront of an electro-acoustic music concert in a rustic landscape. “Plastisphere,” the final song, is deceptive in ambiance with its use of bubble wrap, velcro and other noises that represents the winds blowing and birds chirping. Counterfeit cricket jingles sound like a stormy summers night. Except it’s all just plastic.
Truly remarkable in sound design, organic sampling and creativity, Plastic Anniversary establishes Matmos as an innovator in the experimental electronic genre. A truly powerful and stimulating record, somehow, they manage to outdo themselves once again.