When: Fri., Feb. 15, 9:30 p.m. 2013
Procedural and conceptual frameworks have guided nearly all the music that M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel have created during nearly two decades as Matmos. They built the 2001 album A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure entirely from sound samples of various surgical procedures, for instance; the 2004 EP Rat Relocation Program used the cries of a captured rodent. For 2008’s Supreme Balloon, on the other hand, Matmos used no samples or microphones at all to make its intricate, somewhat kitschy, and entirely synthetic tracks. On this month’s The Marriage of True Minds (Thrill Jockey), their first album in five years, Matmos push further into the conceptual than they ever have: they base their process on a version of the ganzfeld experiment, which was developed in Germany in the 1930s as a test for ESP. Over a four-year period the duo recruited a variety of acquaintances, sequestering them one at a time with their eyes covered and their ears deadened by headphones playing white noise; meanwhile Daniel sat in an adjacent room and attempted to mentally transmit “the concept of the new Matmos record” to each person. The band asked their subjects to describe anything they’d visualized or heard during the process, then used that material—abstract descriptions, hummed melodies, imagery—as a basis for the new album. “Very Large Green Triangles” originated in a session with extroverted Baltimore singer Ed Schrader, who sang and spoke bits of his transcript from the experiment; Matmos chopped up his voice and layered it into a huge, driving Baltimore club track with a dramatic array of synthetic strings and horns. “In Search of a Lost Faculty” draws on every session whose subject mentioned triangles (the most common motif, according the album’s press materials), with actual recordings of the sessions embedded in a slowly intensifying collage of tinging triangles, stately violin, and droning bagpipes. Keeping with its theme to the end, the album closes with an epic, episodic cover of the Buzzcocks’ “E.S.P.” Guest players fleshing out the dynamic arrangements on The Marriage of True Minds include Arditti Quartet violinist Ashot Sarkissjan, former Dirty Projectors singer Angel Deradoorian, and Carly Ptak of Nautical Almanac, but Matmos have always been able to translate their most ambitious recordings to the stage as a duo—which is how they’ll perform here. —Peter Margasak
In September instrumental Baltimore four-piece Horse Lords released a self-titled LP via Ehse Records whose two long tracks gracefully straddle two divergent styles. Horse Lords’ sound is rooted in the mechanical, repetitive Krautrock of Neu! and Can, but the pulse that drives the band is booming and rousing—largely because two drummers hammer it out together. Funky faux-tribal percussion and four-on-the-floor disco beats mesh with dissonant, dancey bass lines to make Horse Lords sound like they’re propelled by the rhythm section from Black Eyes or late-era Fugazi. Guitarist Owen Gardner has customized his instrument with a new fret job that helps him create the album’s bizarre, noisy, enchanting melodies, which his bandmates pepper with synth washes and unexpected blurts of saxophone. A genre-shifting Kraut band full of angular prepared guitar might sound contrived on paper, but the music comes together so organically that it transcends expectations. —Luca Cimarusti Matmos headlines; Horse Lords and Matchess open.