Friday, May 9, 2008

[outsideleft] Matmos and the Warm Glow of Technology

Supreme Balloon

Electronic music is one of the most satisfying and frustrating styles of music there is. In the first half of the century, scientists were putting banks of vaccuum tubes, spools of tape and circuit designs to create a music of the future. The reason they did this is because innovation comes strongest from the lust portions of the heart, and a number of young composers were hungry to find new sounds, new ways of crating music that broke off from the orchestra and sheet music and the same old notes. The scientists and their financial backers recognized that composers, who largely labor away their lives on an art that few witness already, would eagerly play with these toys and the innovations would come. And it did.

This zeal to create new art through new means spread like wildfire. Edgar Varèse fused electronic sounds and orchestras as early as the 30’s, Pierre Schaeffer made songs out of the tapes themselves in his musique concrete in the 50’s, and Milton Babbitt refitted atonalism to be created from blobs an bleeps in the 60’s. The world of sound was now open. By the time the 70’s rolled around, German hipsters embraced these electronics and ran the ragged petals of flower power’s aftermath through their oscillators and filters, fusing the chrome future with the caveman stomp. Music was now jacked in and what did we do with it?



  1. Totally into this album. "Exciter Lamp and the Variable Band" is my favorite. I thought the sounds were familiar and (in addition to what you said about the Silver Apples--that is really even more cool) on a youtube video of that song, my suspicions were confirmed: at the end of the song, for a split of a second, it flashes "for norman mclaren."

    I love Matmos. Between Drew Daniel's recent TG book and their frequent dedications to all of my heroes (other than Norman McLaren, there was Alan Turing an EP back, and then Joe Meek and William Burroughs as well).

  2. I guess I didn't really conclude that thought. Either way, after years of fandom, Matmos continues to surprise and amaze me.