In their 20-year history of making music together, Drew Daniel and M. C. Schmidt have collaborated on some delightfully weird compositions, unusual instrumentations, and intimate, fun, and often frankly erotic live performances. The intervening years seem not to have blunted the drive towards innovation both in concept and result, even if The Ganzfeld EP contains two of the most straightforwardly danceable tracks Matmos has ever produced. There’s still plenty of experimental oddness and scientific detachment to go around, but the youthful provocation shows signs of approachable mellowing.
Each of the three tracks on this release has its own individual approach, and yet it coheres and is unmistakably Matmos. Lead track “Very Large Green Triangles” starts with a hummed vocal melody, then brings in techno beats that would have fit right in on dance floors of the early nineties peak era of rave. (The Schwartz remix makes this much more explicit; it manages to be banging and delicate at once.) “You,” the second track, is technically a remix; the original version may perhaps be included on the upcoming 2013 full-length album release The Marriage of True Minds. This remix is wonderful, though—an airy, super-chilled, evocative electronic track.
The third song on the EP, “Just Waves,” exclusive to this release, bears a certain resemblance to the works of Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass in its layers of “sung” narratives taken from transcripts of psychic experiences. Joining Daniel and Schmidt are Dan Deacon, Angel Deradoorian of Dirty Projectors, and Clodagh Simonds of Fovea Hex, each with a distinctive vocal timbre. Each voice retains a single note, and there is no attempt at melody; any harmonies that result are fleeting and spontaneous, culminating after twelve minutes to an oppressive, but optimistic, repeated, shared single phrase that creates a chord. It’s extremely clever, but more conceptually enjoyable than easily listenable.
Matmos is never going to be a group that makes music for everybody, but The Ganzfeld EP has a good chance of appealing to audiences put off by earlier, glitchier, more esoteric releases. For the Matmos fan, this EP is a pleasing appetizer for what promises to be another stimulating meal.
The Ganzfeld EP was released October 16 on Thrill Jockey Records, and is available to order from their website. The rather witch-house-esque Schwartz Remix of “Very Large Green Triangles” is available for download here.