Matmos Media Club, Vancouver, BC, February 21
Published Feb 22, 2013One does not attend a Matmos concert expecting an abundance of normalcy. True to form, this set by Baltimore-based duo Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt started weird and only got weirder.
As Owen Gardner of Horse Lords — wearing the white headphones and white-out glasses associated with Matmos' parapsychological Ganzfeld experiment — rambled on about the mystical qualities of green triangles, Daniel formed a triangle with his hands and his back to the crowd, slowly turning around to face them. A few minutes later, Daniel displayed an actual green triangle in a similarly ceremonial back-to-front fashion. This piece of theatre held together their 14-minute version of "Very Large Green Triangles" from Matmos' recent album The Marriage of True Minds.
Wearing his studious white shirt and skinny tie, M.C. Schmidt took over centre stage as they moved onto "ESP" (the Buzzcocks cover also featured on their latest album). As members of Horse Lords took their places in a supporting roles, adding guitar, melodeon, shakers and whatnot where need be, Daniel declared "ESP" a love song. Starting with the song's squealing doom metal intro, they moved to a more of a psychedelic surf jangle than the glitchy conclusion on record, going so far as to incorporate the complete melody of the 1963 hit "On Broadway" by the Drifters.
Next, Daniel, who wore a studded denim Merzbow vest, heralded a cheer for surgery as they started into an extra smoochy, gurgly version of "Lipostudio (And So On…)" from 2001's A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure. This was when their visuals started to take a prominent role in their aesthetic, as they montaged various endoscopy procedures, tunnelling through the human body. This led to "Stupid Fambaloo" from their 1998 album Quasi-Objects, with Schmidt performing the various cartoony balloon squeaks and rubs as a video of a shirtless man molesting a balloon on his stomach glowed behind him. Schmidt's live interpretation of the balloon sounds were then arranged by Daniel into a processed, tribal beat, filled in with a little hi-hat, coalescing into a perfect moment of intellectual and dancefloor ecstasy.
The capper of Matmos' set was a rendition of "Treasure" from Treasure State, their 2010 collaborative album with So Percussion. While the crowd had been rather chatty throughout the set, Daniel focused their energy on making the kind of insect and animal noises one would hear on a Martin Denny exotica record, completing the Polynesian aesthetic of the track.
To thoroughly describe everything they did this evening would take a 33 1/3-sized book. Matmos constantly evolved the organizational and sonic structure of their compositions, serving a naked lunch of aural and visual stimulus wrapped up in a cultish package, blending the experimental and the groovy in perfect balance. Their music and style is utterly fustigating, fostering a tripped-out absorption to the point of losing the plot. Matmos is a rare kind of genius.