Matmos intentionally wraps noise-adjacent electronic collage art and contemporary composition into a wild mode of pop-techno. Melding usual sound sources with cerebral, often absurdist ideas, the music of Matmos inspires deep listening and contemplation of everyday sonics, with a possibility of laughter and tears.
Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt have been recording together as Matmos since they met in San Francisco in 1997, infusing their creations with their unique sense of artistry, intellectualism (Daniel is also a professor of English) and humour—they've mined medical equipment for abstract sound, recorded clipped hair and plastic surgery body fat suctioning, and taken a washing machine on tour (the source of all sounds on their Utimate Care II album). While their recording techniques often evoke musique concrète compositional styles of Steve Reich and Luc Ferrari, their conceptual approach, playful rhythms and astute selection of field recordings inject a real-world dynamism and thought-provoking absurdity into their music. Along with releasing over a dozen albums, Matmos has toured with Bjork (and produced sections of her albums Vespertine and Medúlla), collaborated with Antony, J Lesser, So Percussion and Keith Fullerton Whitman, and even contributed music to an augmented reality app. While their 2008 album Supreme Balloon included only pure electronic tones as its source material, Matmos primarily experiments with materials of all kinds, often in the name of a theme: album The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast featured the sounds of a typewriter, a cigarette burning flesh and a gunshot to portray 10 gay and lesbian cultural figures, while A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure focused on samples from medical surgeries and The Civil War used historic instruments from the 16th century English civil war and the 19th century American one. As with every Matmos album, the songs combine elements of electronic manipulation, abstract pop, symphonic composition and avant-garde performative sound art to pull listeners into an addled world uncannily like our own, where culture, politics, comedy and humanity collide in unexpected ways.
Matmos' 11th and latest album, Plastic Anniversary, celebrates 25 years as collaborators and as a couple: a multilayered rhythmic metaphor for both their relationship and the state of the world, the album is compiled of music made using only plastic materials, including a styrofoam cooler, PVC pipes, bubblewrap, silicone breast implants, synthetic human fat and a riot shield. Matmos brings that plastic and an array of electronics to MUTEK for a non-synthetic, in-the-flesh live performance of Plastic Anniversary.