Photo: Theo Anthony

Matmos – “The Crying Pill” (Singles Going Steady)

Here we are in 2019, and Matmos is still producing sounds that just don't fit comfortably into any electronic subgenre currently available for classification.

Mike Schiller: There was a certain subset of electronic artists in the late ’90s that made their name on making not just inventive beats and melodies, but in creating the sounds upon which those beats and melodies were built. Aphex Twin was famous for crafting his own synth noises, and nobody could craft a collection of sounds like Autechre, even as their music moved away from the heart and toward the head. Matmos was among those crafters of sound, their profile raised a bit by some high-profile collaborations with Björk, though they never reached the standalone notoriety of some of those other artists of the time.

Still, here we are in 2019, and the duo is still producing sounds that just don’t fit comfortably into any electronic subgenre currently available for classification. It sounds like squeaky wipers, weaponized clarinets, broken glass and carefully organized static. Too bad about the video which is just a little too “playing with 3D-rendering tools” to be taken seriously, but the track is a welcome reminder that Matmos has been good at this sort of thing for a very long time. [7/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: The gimmick of Matmos’ upcoming album Plastic Anniversary is that every sound on it is derived from a plastic object. “The Crying Pill” sees this gimmick at what I can only imagine is its peak. If Isao Tomita composed the soundtrack for a particularly unsettling children’s circus, it might sound like this: avant-garde electronics in a funhouse mirror. The innovation is impressive, but the end result is hard to listen to, a little incoherent, and at least a minute too long. [3/10]

Jedd Beaudoin: Twisted, fascinating, imaginative. And just about the time you think a passage is going to fully grate on you, you’re given sweet relief. [9/10]

Rod Waterman: This opens like the opening credits to a horror movie about dolls and clowns and it doesn’t really change much after that. It goes straight from scary doll-clown music to a one-minute fadeout and then we’re done. I’m not really sure why this would be a single when it feels like a terrifying interlude to something that might be more discretely interesting. [3/10]

John Garratt: The one time I saw Matmos, they were plucking away on something that looked like a mouse’s cage. It was rather simplistic, perhaps intentionally so, so imagine my surprise when I hear what the duo can construct out of rubbing on plastic. This is truly above and beyond. [8/10]

William Nesbit: Aurally and visually agonizing. You know you’re having a rough time with a song when the addition of what sounds like a repetitive, off-key tuba enhances the experience. The jarring, atonal keyboard riff about a minute from the end almost broke me. Based on what I heard, the absence of vocals is probably a blessing. I listened to this once the whole way through and that was one too many times. The 20 seconds of silence at the end is the best part. Great music to annoy your neighbors or any other living creatures. Matmos been at this for over 20 years, so I guess there’s an audience for this somewhere—but not with me. [2/10]

SCORE: 5.33



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