Music

Matmos: The Ganzfield EP

Electro-weirdos Matmos return with an EP inspired by telepathic experiments.


Matmos

The Ganzfield EP

Label: Thrill Jockey
US Release Date: 2012-10-16
UK Release Date: 2012-10-15
Amazon
iTunes

You can buy The Ganzfield EP, the latest recording by electro-weirdos Matmos, in a special edition boxset that includes over-ear headphones and "custom Ganzfield” goggles. The goggles, which resemble the little eyebuds you’d place over your retinas to keep them from harm in the tanning bed, will -- ideally -- blind you while the headphones pump enough white noise into your eardrums to drown away the outside world. You could also, of course, use the headphones to listen to the music, also helpfully included in the box set.

Matmos, a fantastically inventive duo, loves to work its pop experimentations into a conceptual framework. Here, it attempts to recreate the Ganzfield test -- in which subjects tried to telepathically communicate geometric shapes -- for musical purposes. Matmos’s Drew Daniel attempted, and stay with me here, to telepathically transmit the concept of his group’s new record into the minds of sensory-deprived test subjects, who in turn described any sensory impression they experienced at that moment. So, Daniel and his partner M.C. Schmidt used those bits of sensory input -- little melodies, images, even physical actions -- to create a sonic collage of sorts, a reconstruction of their subjects’ own interpretations of a work that did not exist until those very subjects interpreted it.

Sound clear enough? I hope so, because the premise turns out to be much more interesting than the results, which is unusual for a Matmos record. The group has the uncanny ability -- exceedingly rare in pop music -- to make a concept album actually engaging on a conceptual and emotional level. This time around, despite input from a cadre of interesting musicians including Dan Deacon, Dirty Projector’s Angel Deradoorian, and Ed Schrader, Schmidt and Daniel’s ideas rarely congeal into anything memorable. "Very Large Green Triangles (Edit)" opens with Ed Schrader’s baritone humming a snippet of melody before morphing into a twitchy, ominous club track. But the beats aren’t stimulating enough to move the hips, and the melodies aren’t intriguing enough to tickle the ear. The EP’s anchor, the twelve-minute "Just Waves", layers five voices over and around one another, all roughly harmonizing around the same chord, an initially interesting notion that peters out into something that sounds like an a cappella group’s dinner party. Would you want to go to one of those?

The strongest track here, by far, is RRose’s remix of Matmos’s "You", a fairly straightforward reinterpretation with emphasis on a hypnotic four-on-the-floor beat and an atmosphere of pulsing tension. This, too, is unusual -- as anyone who has seen the band perform live will attest, it’s difficult to best Matmos at the rhythm game. Ganzfield, at least, is only a teaser for the group’s forthcoming full-length on the wonderful Thrill Jockey Records, so we should keep the faith. Matmos certainly won’t run out of ideas anytime soon.

5

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.