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MATMOS
The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast

OLE677
Matador Records 2006
10 Tracks. 55mins34secs

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The approach developed by Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt as part of Matmos is truly unique. Not content of working with found sounds, the pair have made a habit of creating the backdrop for their compositions by recording anything and everything from liposuction sessions to rats, arranging them into often disconcerting and absurd electronic tracks. While their last widely available album, The Civil War, saw them experimenting with real instruments, they return to their strange collection of sounds with this new opus, their eighth altogether.

The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast acts as a sort of memorial to a handful of people Matmos admire, from Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and American writer William S. Burroughs to sixties British record producer Joe Meek and American feminist writer Valerie Solanas. Daniel and Schmidt gathered objects that were important to these people, or related in some way to them, to create a series of disparate and intricate soundscapes arranged into tracks ranging from robotic disco (Stream & Sequins For Larry Levan) and sleazy future-jazz (Snails & Lasers For Patricia Highsmith) to abstract collages (Roses & Teeth For Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tract For Valerie Solanas) and psychedelic Arabic ragtime (Rag For William S. Burroughs). This results in The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast being one of Matmos’s most varied and disjointed collections, yet it actually works surprisingly well overall, with each composition bringing a new layer of grit and substance to the piece.

Always rubbing their audience against the grain, Matmos clearly aren’t in the business of creating pretty music for the sake of it, and their chosen method of working often generate stomach-churning moments. With A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure, they brought the sounds and noises of operating theatres to the masses. This new album begins with Roses & Teeth For Ludwig Wittgenstein, which features one of the philosopher’s text read by Laetitia Sonami, with additional contributions from Werner Schmidt (Martin’s brother), Marcus Schmickler, Zum Zoom, Björk and Rose McKereghan. The musical background was assembled from various recordings made in a Californian farm, from cows eating to roses being covered with manure, while the rhythmic section is formed around sounds of dried roses being crushed. Other tracks feature vocal cameos from the likes of Antony, here without his Johnsons, and Maja Ratkje, anything from typewriters to Schmidt shaving his head, Daniel crying in pain or snails crossing the path of a laser beam aimed at a light-sensitive Theremin for sonic diet.

As they continue to develop a radical approach to music and art, Matmos remain totally and utterly unpredictable. If this can sometimes leave their audience a tad puzzled by their various steps, it has become part and parcel of their work, and this album will not disappoint on this level. The sonic collages found on this new album are arguably not as tight and successful as those found on A Time To Cut Is A Time To Cure, but Matmos still manage to pull this off rather well and create another sense-stimulating soundtrack.

4.1/5

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TRACKLIST

Roses And Teeth For Ludwig Wittgenstein
Steam And Sequins For Larry Levan
Tract For Valerie Solanas
Public Sex For Boyd McDonald
Semen Song For James Bidgood
Snails and Lasers For Patricia Highsmith
Germs Burn For Darby Crash
Solo Buttons For Joe Meek
Rag For William S. Burroughs
Banquet For King Ludwig II Of Bavaria

MATMOS Discography

THE SURFER'S GUIDE TO MATMOS
Matmos
Matador Records

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