Ultimate Care II

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Compared to the inspirations for Matmos' earlier albums -- which include telepathy and plastic surgery -- a washing machine seems prosaic. However, this simplicity gives Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt the perfect showcase for their skill at transforming sounds into art. Named for the Whirlpool model they used to record the album, Ultimate Care II takes listeners through an entire cycle, literally and figuratively: its single 38-minute track matches the time the machine takes to wash a load of laundry. Between the creaking dial that commences the album and the buzzer that announces its completion, there are enough layers to fill a hamper. Even more than some of of Matmos' previous work, Ultimate Care II blurs the boundaries between naturally occurring sounds and composed music in ways that are equally subtle and audacious. At times, the piece sounds exactly like an everyday washing machine -- albeit one blessed with an uncannily good sense of rhythm -- and at others, it takes on the ebb and flow of a classical work, a DJ mix, or new age music, with a churning load of laundry standing in for lapping ocean waves. Ultimate Care II's magnificent sound design finds Daniel and Schmidt taking advantage of all the sounds their source material offers as they build on the machine's naturally infectious, chugging beat, taking it in directions that are as fluid as water and as percussive as metal. As the piece spans tribal, abstract, and reflective moments, Matmos' playful approach balances the length of Ultimate Care II, an album whose title could double as the duo's mission statement. Equally meticulous and mischievous, this is some of Matmos' most engaging work, especially for fans who are as fascinated by their process as their results.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
38:06 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick