15 questions with Matmos

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This year Supersonic will welcome Matmos (M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel) to the fold. This American duo have been manipulating raw materials into surprisingly accessible forms, often supplemented by traditional musical instruments played by them and their large circle of friends and collaborators (Bjork, Robert Wilson, Marina Abramovic etc.). The result is a model of electronic composition as a relational network that connects sources and outcomes together; information about the process of creation activates the listening experience, providing the listener with entry points into sometimes densely allusive, baroque recordings. Their most recent album, The Marriage of True Minds, was released in 2013 by Thrill Jockey Records.

15questions.net recently sat the pair down for a Q&A. We’ve picked out a couple of questions for you below but the interview can be read in full here and it’s well worth doing just that.

When did you start writing/producing music – and what or who were your early passions and influences?

My starting point wasn’t music but sound- I started making cut-ups with tape recorders when I was fifteen, editing funny little skit-like things out of records and the radio with a pause button. I did it because I had read about William S. Burroughs’ experiments with tape recorders and cut-ups and wanted to try that out myself. So I acquired a lot of cheap little plastic tape recorders and began to make pause-button edits, and then started doing primitive multi-tracking of noises and voices by having four tapes play in a room and recording them all to a fifth tape deck. I loved, in order, disco, heavy metal, hip hop, new wave, punk and hardcore and then industrial and noise. That’s the cycle from age 11 to age 16.

What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?

The most literally incisive moments were the recordings of cosmetic surgery that generated our album A Chance to Cut Is A Chance to Cure: rhinoplasty, chin implants, liposuction.

I think meeting Martin was the catalyst for it all. We made a tape called Matmos in Lo Fidelity that was entirely in 8 bit. It was just an exercise in cutting and editing sound intensively, with lots of hyper juxtapositions and ridiculous noises – that was so fun to make, and was the beginning our romantic and musical partnership.

 

 

There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?

We are old fashioned and we like artefacts. I have watched enough turnover of formats in the digital domain to be pretty sceptical about the longevity of digital environments and digital storage. Remember floppy disks? 3.5 diskettes? Memory sticks? Zip drives? SCSI ports? I do. Implicitly, I am collector scum and I still have big boxes of noise cassettes from the 1980s that I love, and tons of vinyl at our house, and old photocopied zines. I think digital is great and has lots of advantages and obviously it’s the dominant media/medium/pathway at the moment. But I don’t see people twenty years from now caressing their old mp3s, while I am still listening to my Misfits record that I bought in high school.

MCS says:  Decidedly toward the latter- that’s why we’ve released the Ganzfeld EP in a limited edition with headphones, eye goggles and extensive liner notes about the project. We want people to be involved in a tactile way and to be informed, through language and image, about what they are hearing. That makes us old fashioned- we’re attached to the metaphor of “the album” as in the “photo album”- something to touch and leaf through and pore over in order to feel a connection.

Usually, it is considered that it is the job of the artist to win over an audience. But listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?

We work to solicit interpretive desire, so that the listener feels a need to understand and learn about what she is hearing. We want to activate listening by foregrounding both jarring encounters with real sound, sourced in everyday life, with everyday objects and heavily artificial / constructed / untrustworthy moments. We hope that the tension between these components will make people worry about what it is that they are hearing and that it will generate a kind of audio-puzzle for them. That’s our hope. But of course you can’t actually determine how and in what way people encounter your work, and that open-endedness is just part of the process.

 

For more information on Matmos visit vague-terrain.com

 

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Supersonic 2014 “Ltd Edt” playlist

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It’s that time again to get curious, to get adventurous and to get ready. After taking a year out to re-imagine the festival following our tenth anniversary, Supersonic Festival is now back and going old skool in special two-day “Limited Edition” format this May 30th-31st. Tickets HERE.

The line-up so far includes post-punk legends SWANS, avant garde rockers WOLF EYES, multi-instrumentalist ensemble EX EASTER ISLAND HEAD, straight-talkers SLEAFORD MODS, sonic explorer BASIC HOUSE, Baltimore duo MATMOS, electro-violinist AGATHE MAX, Norwegian songwriter JENNY HVAL and more…. For a taste of what’s to come have a listen to our Supersonic 2014 playlist featuring these artists:

Supersonic Festival’s playground for 2014 will be the iconic Custard Factory, home of Capsule HQ. This ever-evolving industrial arts complex will shapeshift once again this May to play host to Supersonic’s enticing programme of experimental music, film and art. But this is Supersonic “Limited Edition” don’t forget, so expect a few extra special treats… and remember tickets are limited to 400 so do not miss out. Keep your eyes peeled for further line-up announcements over the next few weeks.
Tickets are available from HERE.

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Supersonic Ltd Edt 2014

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Supersonic Festival 2014

Back by popular demand and after a successful 10 years of existence, Supersonic Festival return and are taking the event back to its core values by curating ‘Supersonic Festival Ltd Edtn’ an intimate two day event. On 30th and 31st May, Capsule present Supersonic Festival Ltd Edtn and shall return to the Custard Factory where it all began.

Since the inception of Supersonic Festival in 2003, Capsule have firmly established the event as a unique,  inner-city festival, with an undeniably vibrant atmosphere, always presenting a variety of performers – the inaugural event featured the bewildering blend of Coil, DJ Food, LCD soundsystem, The Bug and more – and where the film programme, workshops and exhibitions are as paramount to the event’s atmosphere as the live performances. Year in, year out, Capsule unite discerning music fans, embracing eclectic tastes and have over the years adapted a creative space for music lovers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, record stalls and independent businesses to thrive.

As this is a limited event, there are only 400 weekend tickets available at just £45 and they will be going on sale on Friday morning at 10am, so grab them while you can via the www.theticketsellers.co.uk

Swans/ Matmos/Wolf Eyes/Ex Easter Island Head/Sleaford Mods/Agathe Max/Basic House/Jenny Hval more tba

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Supersonic have already confirmed the billing for the event, which will take place at a new space within the Custard Factory, and are delighted to welcome back Swans. Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica are no strangers to Supersonic Festival, and are thrilled to play host to their infamous, dominant and strikingly powerful live show.

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Baltimore duo Matmos shall bring their dizzyingly diverse assemblage to Supersonic Limited in support of their 2013 album. Their music comprises stomping techno, eerie synth jams, musique concrete, Latin rhythms, and Ethiopian music, at once at home in the academy, the art gallery, the nightclub and the noise warehouse, perfect fit for the festival then.

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Liverpool based ensemble, Ex Easter Island Head, will bring their expanded Large Electric Ensemble which includes twelve prepared electric guitars and drums to create a maximalist wash of amplified strings and droning overtones. The ensemble adopt a new vocabulary of playing based around various guitar preparations, from billowing harp-like arpeggios to ‘bowing’ the strings with allen keys to produce luminous upper register drones. Microtonal intervals create shimmering tones akin to the struck metallophones of Balinese gamelan, whilst the thrum of electrified strings creates a dense undertow of singing harmonies. Scored in custom notation the piece places free flowing passages alongside conductor cues, allowing the players to collectively create a distinctive sonic landscape. What Supersonic event would be complete without something special such as this?

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Supersonic are pleased to welcome back, the infamous blistering noise of Wolf Eyes.  From touring with Sonic Youth and Andrew W.K., Wolf Eyes have crossed borders into popularity which few other such confrontational units of their ilk have been able to and kept straight and narrow on their blazing path, and are on top form. The overwhelming force of Wolf Eyes must be seen to to be believed.

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Sleaford Mods will bring their aggressive verbal onslaught to the Custard Factory, a great setting to spout about all that is contrived and connected to the day-to-day hammer of low paid employment and domestic situations arising from that trap.

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Also returning to the festival, is French artist Agathe Max. With an elegant command of melody and a strident use of rhythm, Max creates dynamic, fast-flowing loop pieces that encompass noise, post-classicism and krautrock with nods to the High Lonesome Raga as filtered through Henry Flynt.

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We warmly welcome a rising talent to this rich mix in the form of Basic House, the work of the UK’s Stephen Bishop, the man behind the ever more impressive label that is Opal Tapes and also vocalist of Drunk In Hell who played an unforgettable set at Supersonic in 2012. His textural and rhythmic explorations are fast growing in acclaim, described as “somewhere between Kassem Mosse, The New Blockaders and Zoviet*France.”

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Finally, provocative Norwegian singer, composer, lyricist and writer Jenny Hval shall perform at Supersonic. Multidisciplinary and transgressive are words often employed to describe her art, but Jenny Hval’s polyphonic artistry is in fact seamlessly interwoven between musical, literary, visual and performative modes of expression. Despite her young age, she has already infused, carved and modulated an artistic voice that is altogether present, accessible and obscurely complex at the same time. We cannot wait!

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Let’s not forget the other elements which always make Supersonic so special, the workshops and participatory events. Supersonic have selected If Wet to feature at the festival. If Wet is a monthly event of sonic exploration, usually held in a rural village hall; chaired by musical instrument designers MortonUnderwood. Part show and tell, part test bed, part salon. A place for artists to showcase their latest sonic works and research. A place to revel and discuss. After a successful inaugural season MortonUnderwood have decided to extend the reach of If Wet beyond the village hall and it is with great pleasure that they will transport their distinctive event to Supersonic 2014.

Supersonic Ltd Edtn will launch Capsule’s inaugural ‘Labs’ (artist development and commissioning scheme) devised to create more opportunities for commissioning experimental, cross-disciplinary art. More information about this will be coming soon.

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Bill Drummond: The 25 Paintings
Legendary musician and artist Bill Drummond will begin a twelve year ‘World Tour’ under Spaghetti Junction marking this momentous event with an exhibition at Eastside Projects.
The exhibition focuses on ‘The 25 Paintings’, a series of artworks that signpost actions Drummond will perform across Birmingham during his three month stay in the city including, but by no means limited to, giving away bunches of daffodils, discovering Dead Oak Rings, building rafts, hiding in cafes, making beds, sweeping the streets clean and brewing tea. Also on show will be The SIXTY Posters, The 25 Sixty Second Films, an evolving selection of photographs, a globe of the world and a large map of the city.
www.eastsideprojects.org

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Matmos

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Matmos

Matmos is M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, aided and abetted by many others.

Currently based in Baltimore, the duo formed in San Francisco in the mid 1990s, and self-released their debut album in 1997. Marrying the conceptual tactics and noisy textures of object-based musique concrete to a rhythmic matrix rooted in electronic pop music, the two quickly became known for their highly unusual sound sources: amplified crayfish nerve tissue, the pages of bibles turning, water hitting copper plates, liposuction surgery etc.

Since their debut, Matmos have released over eight albums and in 2001 they were asked to collaborate with the Icelandic singer Bjork on her “Vespertine” album, and subsequently embarked on two world tours as part of her band. Most recently, they have been part of the ensemble for the Robert Wilson production “The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic”, featuring Marina Abramovic, Antony and Willem Dafoe.
http://vague-terrain.com/

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