i am kind of at a loss for words to describe last wednesday’s show by matmos and wobbly at the aladdin theater. big thanks go to jamie for being my last minute companion replacement. thankfully she enjoyed the show, as a lot of you know it can be a huge risk to go to a show with me when you have no idea what it is.
wobbly opened the show, i was pretty excited to see him. his wild why album is a masterpiece of plunderphonics, so i was hoping for some crazy sample manipulations. like most experimental electronic musicians you never get what you expect. wobbly walked out and sat behind his mixing boards, samplers, drum machine and keyboard and produced a glitch filled piece full of broken beats that were constantly teetering on the edge of being danceable. two brave souls did dance in the large open space in front of the stage, i think one of them must have been a dance student becuase he could really move to wobbly’s disjointed sounds.
shortly after wobbly left the lights dimmed leaving only a bright flashing blue light. a theremin like sound seemed to be coming from somewhere. i heard some rustling in the crowd and noticed that m.c. schmidt and drew daniel, the adorable couple that make up matmos, were coming down the aisles with flashlights and laser pointers. they were shining the flashlights and pointers all over the crowd and the stage, after some study i realized that the flashing blue light was some kind of sensor and they were manipulated the sounds by hitting the blue light with varying degrees of lights. i knew we were in for something interesting.
when they made it to the stage they were joined by the honorary third matmos member (and a talented electronic manipulator in his own right) j lesser. together they performed matmos’s unique brand of electronic noise. they played for a little over and hour with only two songs coming from their latest album, supreme balloon, including a slightly edited version of the 20+ minute title track. the highlight for me (and jamie) was a song off of the west, for which m.c. and j lesser donned guitars and did some live sampling. also the version of “semen song for james bidgood”, off of the rose has teeth in the mouth of a beast, was amazing, they tweaked it just enough.
m.c. schmidt also handled all the video manipulations, i should say that they weren’t handled live, he made it no secret that he was popping in a different dvd for each piece. he approaches his videos with the same sampling and collage work that is used in the music. an interest he explores further with his (far noisier and abrasive) phase chancellor side project.
after their set was over they came back on stage for an encore this time accompanied by wobbly. this made me happy because their live album wide open spaces, made with wobbly, is one of my favorites. this improv was far too short though, i feel like they were just getting into it when suddenly it was all over.
i have only seen matmos once before and that was in seattle at the detestable venue the triple door. that was more of a pop structured show. this time it was more out there, seemingly trying to eschew traditional song structure. this was an amazingly satisfying show, reminding me why i like electronic music.