Published Feb 14, 2013Matmos have always balanced a certain amount of academic-geared experimentation with a sense of humour and often accessible melodic bent, but with The Marriage of True Minds, the duo of Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt have created their most accessible album yet, albeit somewhat accidentally.
"Yeah, it's weird," says Daniel, discussing the album in an interview with Exclaim!, "the sort of conceptual-heavy weather that gave us the germs of a lot of the songs wouldn't necessarily suggest pop music, but it sort of did turn out that way."
The new material also sees the duo extending themselves further into instrumentation than on previous outings, including a drummer and a guitarist in their live set-up. "We're sort of morphing into a rock band," says Daniel. "I never saw it coming, but it's happening!"
The concept behind the album is telepathy, and the results are based on melodies and comments suggested by several friends and acquaintances during a series of 50 sensory deprivation experiments. These experiments were based on the Ganzfeld experiments of Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Metzger in the 1930s.
As Schmidt explains, "People laid in a dark room with ping pong balls on their eyes listening to white noise and we recorded the things they said."
Daniel elaborates, "They were told to count to 30 and clear their minds, and I would be thinking the concept of the new Matmos album and trying to get it into their minds as hard as I could."
The resulting ideas and melodies were then translated into songs, and to drive the message home, the album is bookended by two covers on the theme of telepathy, opening with "You" — originally by Mute artist Holger Hiller — and closing with a cover of the Buzzcocks' "ESP."
Also affecting The Marriage of True Minds, Schmidt and Daniel recently relocated from San Francisco in favour of the musically vibrant scene in Baltimore.
"San Francisco was our home for a long time and I really loved it, but a sort of triumph of a culture of snark went hand-in-hand with an ironic detachment. Then instead of going out and getting sweaty and getting in a mosh pit, you stand on the sidelines and kinda laugh and smirk into your sleeve," says Daniel. "What I like about Baltimore is there isn't an emphasis on irony, it's just a different focus. It's just an unique place."
Matmos' North American tour kicked off this week, and tonight (February 14) the band will play Toronto before heading to Vancouver on February 21. Fellow Baltimore band Horse Lords will be in support for both dates.
The Marriage of True Minds will be released on Thrill Jockey on February 19.