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Matmos: Supreme Balloon

April 30, 2008, 12:00 am
It was with a shit-eating grin spread wide across his face that local DJ and musician Ben Wright (D Numbers, The Santa Fe All-Stars) nailed Matmos.

"They're nerds!" he exclaimed as he dropped the needle onto the record and began to play Matmos' 2003 album, The Civil War.

What Wright summed up in two words is true of all Matmos' work. War layered marching-band beats into a concept album that discussed war through dance music. The band's 2006 album, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast, confirmed the nerd description with songs to and about somewhat famous literary figures, using the sounds of decomposing animals, semen and who-even-wants-to-know-what-else to pay tribute.
Now the band has come back with yet another experiment in sound, this time using only synthesizers to create a galaxy of ambient and dance electro music millions of miles from anywhere in the Milky Way. Kraftwerk would be proud.
What makes Supreme Balloon interesting is that it doesn't sound like a bunch of synths being played by two guys in a San Francisco bedroom and a Whitefish, Mont., recording studio. It sounds like a pirate radio broadcast from a hipster alien art collective, or Sigur Rós shot into the future and brought back to the present to teach us about technology. The beats are smooth and soft, the rhythms complex but not overly intellectual and while there aren't actually vocals the instruments manage to sing in a language that nearly resembles English.

Yes, the two guys who make up Matmos, MC Schmidt and Drew Daniel, along with guests such as Marshall Allen (Sun Ra Arkestra), classical pianist Sarah Cahill and other electro-masters, are nerds. They've intellectualized their artform to perfection and leave the listener with nothing to deconstruct. Instead, the music exists as a symphonic piano work, filtered through layer upon layer of technology, that eases the mind into a reflective calm.

Supreme Balloon
Matador Records


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