Year of release: 2019
by Jericho Cerrona
Multi-instrumentalists Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt have been making forward thinking electronic music as Matmos for 25 years now, and to celebrate, they’ve created an entire album incorporating the sound of plastic objects. Like with their last record, Ultimate Care II, which used washing machine samples as the basis for songs, Daniel and Schmidt take things which would normally be thrown into the recycling bin and transform them into wonderfully weird, percussive electronic soundscapes.
Matmos have always been on the cutting edge production-wise (not to mention the fringes), so the foray into squaks, squibbles, boings, and clicking-clacks is not really that surprising. However, what they’ve been able to conjure simply through manipulating, condensing, and warping these everyday objects is dazzling and at times, accessible. Songs like opener “Breaking Bread”, humorously made up of broken vinyl records by '70s rock band Bread and “Silicone Gel Implant”, which begins with a bouncy groove before descending into what sounds like analog tape decks being mashed together, are so densely packed with sonic detours that it’s almost brain-breaking. But for every up-tempo plastic-pop banger, like the horn-inflected title track and drum-heavy "Fanfare for Polythene Waste Containers", of which Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier makes an appearance, there are darker excursions. For instance, “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” comes off like a metal factory being invaded by space aliens, while album closer “Plastisphere” conjures images of an ocean covered in consumer waste where the twisted sounds of bubble wrap and plastic cans becomes a hellish cacophony.
Even after 25 years, Matmos continue to push forward and create singular work. What might at first seem like a gimmick transforms into something Daniel and Schmidt have been doing their entire careers; taking elements of the ordinary and massaging them into something extraordinary, and most importantly, musically inventive. At the very least, it will make you look at toilet brushes and silicone breast implants in a whole new light.