THEY’VE been quietly toying with our minds for many years now, Matmos: like the doll at the back of the wardrobe which, blessed with life, just twitches and stirs enough at 3am once in a while to introduce doubt into our brains.
Exhibit one, m’lud: A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure, their fourth album from back in 2001, which took a sound pool of surgical procedures such as liposuction and bonesaws and still managed to create something playful and artful from them.
Come August 21st, the duo of M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel are back, giddily pied-pipering an entranced band of collaborators including David Grubbs, Yo La Tengo, Oneohtrix Point Never and Marisa Anderson into their den, therein to sample and chop and yaw and shear them into an off-kilter masterplan, the three-hour opus entitled The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form.
And in honour of this new work, which features 99 musicians in a vast and dazzling stew synchronised across the album at precisely 99bpm – there’s an underlying concept if ever there were – they have released the video for the nine-minute track … “No Concept”.
Described by the band as “a kind of safari into the visual unconscious” the video crawled onto the beach of consciousness using a mound of children’s books, historical illustrations, discarded magazines, medical texts, flyers, religious pamphlets, product labels, pornography and found photography.
Drew Daniel takes our hand and leads us deeper: “When quarantine started we turned our dining room table into a ‘collage station’, piled up an enormous amount of paper ephemera that was around the house and started to chop it up and create visual collages with glue-sticks.
“Pulling from a bank of 50 or so collages, M.C. Schmidt scanned them at high resolution and then created a kind of ‘pan and scan’ animation. This is a direct visual analogue to the collaborative group collage principle that created the music.
“‘No Concept’ has elements from people who are from very different musical worlds, styles, scenes, cohorts all playing at the same tempo but unaware of each other’s contributions … all snipped and chopped into place.
“There is no concept other than the endless digressive flow as one thing replaces another which replaces another which replaces another; the purpose is to pull the mind into drooling fascination with change as such, and the slithering world of differences within a constantly similar tempo.”
Have a watch of the short film below: as a signpost for the album, we find Matmos as always, by turns playful, insouciant, deeply exploratory, far-reaching, otherly, primitivist, collaged, raw and bewitching.
Matmos’s The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form will be released by Thrill Jockey on August 21st on digital download and 3CD formats, and may be pre-ordered here.