Musical eccentrics Matmos are back on Thrill Jockey with more high-concept funny business. On Ultimate Care II their electronic experiments are constructed entirely from sounds produced by, or on, their washing machine. With the help of some friends (including Dan Deacon) the sounds are processed, sampled, sequenced and mashed into oblivion. The results are complex percussive outbursts that bring to mind a more pop-inclined Autechre.
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- THRILL401LPX / Limited indies only 'Clean Laundry' (blue with white swirl) vinyl LP on Thrill Jockey
- Includes download code
7/10 Laurie Staff review, 18 February 2016
This is a concept album about a washing machine. The concept is, the machine washes their clothes, they smoke a thousand joints, then sit agape listening to the sounds that it exudes. “Whoaa man, we should totally record that whirr”... “Dude, we could make a drum out of the drum”. Clint described these two as ‘sonic pranksters’ and he wasn’t lying.
The truth is, that you can only just make out the washing machine through all the glitched-out madness, the corners of metal timbres poking out of sparkling beat sequences. I think I just heard it relax after a good, speedy spin. MC Schmidt and Drew Daniel are also joined by a few buddies to build this single track monster, including electronic madman Dan Deacon and two guys from a band called Horse Lords. I dunno, check discogs or something.
For the most part, there’s barely a melody to be heard, with most of the ‘pitched’ stuff being atonal streaks of psychedelic blips and the occasional bass line. I repeat, occasional. It reaches some actual chords in the second half which do much to break the glitch/beat duality. The glitch sequences do get a bit wearing after a while, and when they build into beats, they come across as slightly naive and simplistic, with some random glitches thrown on top to feign complexity. That being said, there are some hilarious/ridiculous sounds at some points, and generally, the sound design itself (the actual quality of each sound) is pretty great. There are even some more subtle rhythmic bits that feel polyrhythmic and don’t just consist of a kick made from thumping the thing and a snare from banging on it.
So yes, a successful transformation of a washing machine, but why does everyone fail to resist the pull of half-assed hip-hop beats?
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