Monday, May 12, 2008

Matmos - Supreme Balloon

Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt, the duo that form Matmos, have always taken their ideas to the extreme end of experimental electronic music. Be it the sounds of liposuction on A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure, screaming rats on Rat Relocation Program, or a cow's uterus on The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast, they always push the constraints of traditional music making. However, on their newest album, Supreme Balloon, they take their experiences gained using organic materials to create music and apply it to synthesizers. In the first page of the liner notes, it says "No microphones were used on this album." Clearly, this is a big step for them.

Matmos are obviously using different media, but somehow they still manage to create music that isn't very different from what they've made in the past. It just sounds a little like old Matmos run through a dance filter. Lots of poppy sounds and dancey beats that make you question, if only momentarily, who you're listening to. But fear not, Supreme Balloon is undeniably Matmos.

And while the first few tracks are really fun (Les Folies Francaises sounds dramatic and cheesy enough to be straight from A Clockwork Orange's soundtrack), the centerpiece is certainly the 24 minute title track. It starts out sounding like Matmos took a few too many hits and turned prog. But then it turns into something that would be played during a dream montage in a John Hughes movie. Then it goes all spacey for a little bit before toning it down for some cool mellow beats mixed with bizarre sounds that could be aliens talking in their native language (maybe they can only talk using synths?). And in the last 4 or 5 minutes, it sounds like the duo are trying to fake sample Van Halen's Jump (I just keep picturing David Lee Roth doing that ridiculously impressive mid air split).

The album closes with Cloudhoppers which follows the title track with a soothing finish. But wait! There's more! There's an untitled hidden track that starts in after 10 minutes of silence. It's pretty weird and upbeat, just like the beginning of the record.

All in all, it's great to hear a new Matmos record, especially one where they're yet again limiting their means but crafting wonderful ends. Definitely recommended.

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