As electronic and industrial music fans, we were thrilled to be invited to this free and impromptu evening with US duo Matmos in the intimate surroundings of the lovely Chalkwell Hall in Westcliff-on-Sea.
Baltimore-based Matmos (M.C Schmidt and Drew Daniel) were in residence at arts organisation Metal for a week to work on the organisation's latest project: NetPark, the world's first digital art park, which will be launched on 26th September 2015. During their time in Chalkwell, Matmos produced site-specific music and audio to be included in the NetPark project. The aim of NetPark is to create digital artworks showing artistic responses to the landscape, the history and the people of the park. Visitors will be able to walk around whilst accessing the artworks via apps, ipads and iphones. There will also be a fully equipped educational centre at the heart of the project.
Matmos inhabit a world of avant-garde and intellectual creativity; they are used to working with artists from other disciplines: visual artists, playwrights, choreographers, performance artists...
They have also collaborated with numerous musicians including Bjork (whose Biophilia Educational project could have been an inspiration for NetPark). Improvisation and experimentation are two words intrinsically part of the Matmos vocabulary and they have been known for using unusual sources of sound such as "amplified crayfish nerve tissue, the pages of bibles turning, water hitting copper plates, liposuction surgery, cameras and VCRs, chin implant surgery, contact microphones on human hair, rat cages, tanks of helium, a cow uterus, human skulls, snails, cigarettes, card shuffling, laser eye surgery, whoopee cushions, balloons, latex fetish clothing, rhinestones, Polish trains, insects, life support systems, inflatable blankets, rock salt, solid gold coins, the sound of a frozen stream thawing in the sun, a five gallon bucket of oatmeal."
There is a pop sensibility there and a lot of humour and playfulness; they can also reverse to a more post-industrial environment and create darker, harsher soundscapes. You can perceive that their influences are numerous and varied: electro, synth, industrial, techno, ambient and they shape-shift at will between all of them.
The first track of the evening was inspired by the recent Baltimore riots and the rather surreal curfew imposed on the city's inhabitants; M.C Schmidt also read a text he had written that very week, inspired by a stroll around Chalkwell Park surrounded by flowers in bloom and arguing couples.
The event coincided with the anniversary of Alan Turing's birth, and one track was inspired by him and his work, featuring words from a postcard he had written just before his death and the noises and rhythm produced by the Enigma machine (more about the track HERE).
We want more!
Here's what you can do with a balloon. Someone should tell Einsturzende Neubauten, they might want to try it!
I think therefore I write.
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