The Civil War
Matmos’s last album was perhaps the most conceptually interesting and post-modernly aware cut and paste techno album I’ve ever heard. Using found sounds and samples of lab instruments/elective surgeries to create a dance soundtrack for the “beautiful people,” the band somehow simultaneously frustrated and appeased their core audience. The duo’s follow-up keeps the miraculous technique but sloughs off about one hundred and fifty years in instrumentation by building an album around instruments from medieval English folk and Civil War-era Americana re-envisioned for Tina Turner’s Thunderdome.
For a band whose main forum is the urban nightclub, having breakbeats dissolve into pedal steel, dobro and almost non-existent piano is certainly a calculated risk, but one that happens to be completely worthwhile. The question of the dubious musicality of rabbit skins is even answered on the highly danceable “Pelt & Holler.” Matmos know enough to not to alienate all of the fabulous folk, and throw them a bone to the tune of the hardly archaic disco-blues-funk “Y.T.T.E.” Even on this track, Matmos keep it on the Atari side rather than opting for the X Box. This album is as invigorating as any experimental electronic album you’re going to find. It’s quite nearly a 2003 companion piece to Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman’s visceral, technominous soundtrack to the cult cannibal film Ravenous. Never in a million years would I have thought I would own two albums like this and think so highly of both.