by carl wilson

Thanksgiving is for Matmos!

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After so much music in Montreal, it was a bit overwhelming to come home to a concert that exceeded nearly all of it. I went almost straight from the train to the Music Gallery to see the first show in a two-night stand by Matmos, the San Francisco sounds-and-electronics duo of Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt who've put out one of the greatest albums of 2006, The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast. Matmos makes music out of every possible sound source, from the wushwush of a liposuction machine to the rattling of teeth, from duck calls to hair clippers to shortwave radio to burning flesh and cries of pain, all processed and remixed into pieces that can be catchy or chaotic or danceable or dark and demonic. They toy with themes of sex and subculture, high art and trash, linguistic theory and snails and lasers. (And on the namedropping tip, they've collaborated and toured with Bjork among many others.) I know Drew a bit from EMP, but I'd never seen them do their thing live before tonight, and it's an extraordinary spectacle - a far cry from the dude-fiddles-with-laptop syndrome of many electronic performances. You see some of the sounds being constructed out of tables full of random junk and warped before your eyes while others are totally mysterious in origin; the confusion is half the fun. There are great video projections for extra stimulus (some of them also remixed live), and Drew and Martin are like a postmodern vaudeville duo in their quickwitted interactions and graceful slapstick: Schmidt has a great poker face even as he's doing completely bizarre things with household objects. They're also joined by the So Percussion ensemble, a four-piece group of virtuoso drummers and percussionists, who open the show playing Steven Reich's Drumming and their own compositions, then join Matmos as an all-purpose rhythm machine. (And for four guys who met as grad students in music at Yale, they're as relaxed and casual on stage as a bar band. Later: Note that one of their pieces is currently under discussion, and downloadable, at Paper Thin Walls.) It all sounded great in the Music Gallery's intimate church setting; it can be a tricky environment for heavier sounds, but they pulled it off deftly.


I can't sum it all up, partly because I don't want to spoil surprises for anyone who'll be in tonight's audience. I'll add some details after that. But if you're in Toronto and can get away from the dinner table in time (So Percussion play at 8 pm, Matmos at 9 pm), do yourself a solid and amble on over there. There should be plenty of tickets at the door. I know the gate is a tad steep (at one point, when they had a very brief technical difficulty, Drew turned to his partner and said in a mock-persnickety voice, "Martin! These people paid 28 Canadian dollars for this show!") - it's more than worth it. And if you're not in town, they don't tour very often, so check out these dates:

10/09 - Toronto, ON - Music Gallery*
10/10 - Montreal, QC - Le National*
10/11 - Philadelphia, PA - International House*
10/12 - Boston, MA - Museum of Fine Arts**
10/13 - New York, NY - Thalia Theater at Symphony Space*
10/14 - New York, NY - Thalia Theater at Symphony Space*
10/17 - Los Angeles, CA - Jensen Rec Center***
10/18 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall***
10/20 - Portland, OR - Holocene***
10/21 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door***

* With So Percussion
** With So Percussion, Keith Fullerton Whitman
*** With Walter Kitundu

| Posted by zoilus on Monday, October 09 at 7:07 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

COMMENTS

saw them last week in chicago and they melted my mind too. really amazing performance. great mix of improv and composition, and the videos added a lot. plus drew's electronics were mixed right front and center -- very present -- which was perfect against the percussive clatter, not to mention martin's multi-instrumentality.

and thanks for the kind words below, carl. that's high praise. glad you find some things worth reading.

Posted by w&w; on October 9, 2006 4:55 PM

 

 

Matmos?!?
I'm still traumatized by their "california rhinoplasy" ep.....ugggggghhhhhh : )

Posted by knitgirl on October 9, 2006 1:42 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson