The Marriage of True Minds

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After the release of their underrated 2008 analog synth excursion The Supreme Balloon, Matmos applied their conceptual discipline to collaborations with the So Percussion ensemble and old friends like Lesser and Wobbly. Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt also spent those years conducting parapsychological experiments that became the foundation for The Marriage of True Minds, putting subjects in a state of sensory deprivation and transmitting the concept of the duo's new album to them telepathically. Whether it's the result of the album's lengthy genesis or the time they spent working on more restrained projects, this is the freest Schmidt and Daniel have sounded in some time. "Mental Radio" is one of the most audacious tracks, mixing Latin rhythms, sloshing water, traffic noises, and free jazz. And while "Ross Transcript" might be a more formal version of the musique concrète that informs all of Matmos' music, its collage of radio noise, eating, and other sounds is just as brash. However, The Marriage of True Minds has its subtle moments. "You," a mellow sci-fi jazz cover of a song by Palais Schaumburg's Leslie Winer and Holger Hiller, plays with perception as it offers a grand opening statement: percussion that sounds like rattling spoons is actually a tweaked sample of tap-dancing, and as Nautical Almanac's Carly Ptak intones "Telepathy/We want to know," sleek piano and upright bass glide up to meet her, embodying the need for connection that is at the album's heart. When Matmos use samples of their subjects describing what they saw and heard, it feels like commentary on how much gets reinterpreted when making, describing, and evaluating art. "Very Large Green Triangles," which first appeared on 2012's Ganzfeld EP, reconfigures singer Ed Schrader's session into a pomp-filled piece of gothic chamber pop. "In Search of a Lost Faculty" gathers all the mentions of triangles -- of both the geometric and musical varieties -- during the experiments into an eerie epic that suggests that this may not have been coincidental. Indeed, the silly/scary duality of phenomena that can't be easily proven or disproven is one of The Marriage of True Minds' biggest, and most entertaining, themes. Dan Deacon's throat singing on "Tunnel" is equally intense and playful, accompanied by a pounding house rhythm that exemplifies how Matmos' music can appeal to minds and feet at the same time. However, the album's most surprising track is a cover of the Buzzcocks' "E.S.P." that begins as apocalyptic rock, complete with death metal growls courtesy of Bloody Panda's Gerry Mak, and punishing guitars from Pleasure Wizard, then morphs into riff-heavy pop sung by Schmidt and Daniel themselves. It's not their prettiest song, but it's a bold and strangely fitting end to an album that marks 20 years of Matmos' music. Effortlessly balancing the duo's freewheeling, meticulous, ominous, and playful sides, The Marriage of True Minds would be fascinating even without its (admittedly inspired) concept for the way it delivers some of the most abstract, and most visceral, music in their career.

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