Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Matmos: "The Marriage of True Minds" (album review)

It's been five long years since we last heard a full length from free-wheeling instrumentalists Matmos.  On February 22nd that silence gets broken as they release their new record The Marriage of True Minds.

I'm not sure whether the wait was completely worth it.  The Marriage of True Minds is an often unfocused effort which lacks a clear cohesive element.  The songs are loose, but far too frequently drift into the realm of amorphous.  The biggest offender is the mess of random found sounds interlude "Ross Transcript".

Tracks like "In Search of Lost Faculty" and "Aetheric Vehicle" are floating leisurely atmospheric numbers that tend to leave you cold.

The 8-plus minute cover of The Buzzcocks' "ESP" is intriguing, but mechanical.  In mentioning mechanical, it would be remiss not to touch on "Tunnel", a cut that hearkens back to mid-90s electronica.

There are more than a handful of compelling moments on the record though.  "Very Large Green Triangle" begins life as a foreboding and choppy track worthy of The Birthday Party before devolving into a mindless trance.  Piano and upright bass mesh seamlessly with spoken word on the album opener "You".

The standout track is undoubtedly "Mental Radio".  African rhythms and horns are punctuated by a fascinating sloshing water effect that lends a grand scope to the song.

Usually with an album in the style of The Marriage of True Minds I would say that you need to be in a very specific headspace to be able to properly consume and appreciate the art.  Unfortunately, with this particular record I can't for the life of me figure out what that headspace would be.

Matmos play a TBA venue in Toronto on February 15th.

Best tracks: "Mental Radio", "You"

Track listing for The Marriage of True Minds:
  • You
  • Very Large Green Triangle
  • Mental Radio
  • Ross Transcript
  • Teen Paranormal Romance
  • Tunnel
  • In Search of Lost Faculty
  • Aetheric Vehicle
  • ESP

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