Matmos – Café Oto, Dalston, London – Sunday 1st June

Matmos.  Picture by Dawid Laskowski

Arriving to a packed Café Oto with blacked-out curtained windows was a disconcerting experience.  The warm evening sunlight was left at the door, the interior an expectant gloom waiting to be filled with the scraping noise and strobe assault of Jeff Carey.  He unleashed brutal screes of sharply contoured roaring gravel from a space-noise console, an almost unceasing ear-raid, the audience strafed with digital violence, the joystick music-interface and steeply inclining tilt of his table making the performance a visceral pixel-drenched arcade dive-bombing.

Drew Daniel with Jeff Carey.  Picture by Dawid Laskowski

Setting up stall within the rubble, Matmos charmed the audience with amiable humour, their characters in warm human contrast to the often jarringly alien sights and sounds they unleash from the assorted laptops, samplers, synths and films.  The show began with a gurgling descent down rancid sewer pipes, sparkling flakes of gold flushing and scouring the tunnels; the sound of competing drones intermingling with Aeolian harp flutter and bass wobble bliss, as M.C. Schmidt declared: “shit into gold!”  The material performed was all new apart from a song from the Supreme Balloon album, its joyous melted lurid organ riffs clashing with stylobuzz grinding.  Matmos were joined by Carey for another piece, encompassing metallic ringing and bit-crumbled scrape hum while a projector screen showed a slow zoom into a piano interior, hammers falling like soft stabbing blunted teeth.  A second collaboration saw a violinist joining the group for a kitchen pot-step washing-up clatter-racket which became a beautiful lowing juddering Strauss mountain dawn-rise with squealing strings accompaniment.  The duo’s legendarily odd sound-sources came into play when Schmidt cast stones from a bag onto the floor of the venue while Drew Daniels repeatedly struck a highchair with his baseball cap.  The best was saved to last which featured Schmidt dueting with a film of himself cleaning a prepared piano, answering a mobile phone simultaneously with his projected alterna-self.  The piece was loud, chaotic,  mad, and enormous fun; a dada dialogue, a clash of sense and nonsense, two electronic wizard-savants not entirely in control of their process and seemingly happy to abandon it to gleeful accident and spontaneous creation.

M.C.Schmidt. Picture by Dawid Laskowski

 Matmos’ live experimentation couldn’t be any more engaging, they abandon conceptual rigour for the pursuit of good music when circumstances demand, never slaves to their own sharp intellects.  With Matmos, the music is paramount, as it should be.

View Dawid Laskowski’s Flickr page here.

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