Matmos - Plastic Anniversary - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Matmos - Plastic Anniversary

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2019-03-15
Matmos - Plastic Anniversary
Matmos - Plastic Anniversary

M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, a.k.a. Matmos, have done some pretty wild and groundbreaking work over the years, and they continue in that experimental spirit with their latest set, Plastic Anniversary. For their next trick, they will be performing only with plastic objects. We're talking trash cans, breast implants, bubble wrap, and even more bizarre items. And the music itself is just as strange for the most part. It's oddly grounded at times by the inclusion of plastic horns and drums as well. To avoid any misunderstanding, the group have helpfully titled most songs with the most prominent "instruments" used in their creation.

Opener 'Breaking Bread' is a lot of goofy fun, with a vaguely Blue Man Group vibe. It's loaded with piles of percussive melodies and quirky sound effects, but comes off as fairly straightforward, all things considered, and definitely compared to what comes later. In fact, the very next track, 'The Crying Pill', is a distorted circus fun house, lurching back and forth with just a touch of madness infused into its core. There's a hint of The Residents special brand of insanity here.

There are times when the band gets deep into the IDM weeds, such as on 'Thermoplastic Riot Shield', which at times goes off the rails in classic Autechre fashion, with banging, screeching, and scratching all piled up on top of each other in a mad heap. In other places, the music gets pretty cute, like on the title track, which sounds like a drunken marching band of wind-up toys. And 'Interior with Billiard Balls & Synthetic Fat' is a fountain of glitch. The interesting thing about this song is you can really hear the billiard balls cracking together beneath the electro-burbling.

The band goes super retro on a few occasions, with a distinctly analog flavor thanks to the physical instrumentation. 'Extending the Plastisphere to GJ236b' is a quick little blender of sounds that leads into 'Silicone Gel Implant'. Both sound like throwbacks to Raymond Scott's very early electronic experimentation from the 1960s, with odd half-melodies bubbling up from the depths and clunky percussion stumbling around.

'Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom' is a wacky piece that sounds like an alien invasion in the middle of Rio de Janeiro's Carnival. It's all whistles and drums until the blasters start firing and there's panic in the streets. Closer 'Plastisphere' is by far the most ambient track on the set, managing to sound incredibly organic in spite of its source materials. It's more like a found sound collage spanning forests, beaches, and nighttime swamps than an industrial byproduct.

This album differs from their previous set, Ultimate Care II, which was made wholly with the sounds of a washing machine. That album felt more like a journey, albeit a short, small one through a wash cycle. Plastic Anniversary is more like spending time in a child's playroom. You're not going anywhere, but you're having fun hanging out. I'll put it out there: this isn't for everyone. It gets somewhat approachable here and there but is generally so alien compared to stuff like pop, rock, and hip-hop that most people won't get it. But for electronic and experimental aficionados, this is one of the best sets of the year so far. And all proceeds from the record go to The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch non-profit working on technology to clean plastic waste out of the oceans, making this an even more worthwhile purchase.

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