The West


Autofact is pleased to announce a reissue of The West -- a five song album by the Baltimore electronic duo, Matmos -- in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the album's original recording, released on Deluxe Records in 1999. On this, their third release, Matmos collaborate with an all-star selection of friends to create an unusual hybrid of digitally-constructed acoustic music. Imitating but transforming rock, country, and folk gestures, The West reaches territory similar to work by John Fahey or Gastr del Sol from a perversely opposite end of the spectrum: instead of making organic music that draws upon electronic texture, this is electronic music that feels organic -- both in its sound sources and in its construction. Instead of the bizarre sound sources that Matmos have used in the past (amplified crayfish nerve tissue, rubber clothing, hair), the musique concrète elements on The West have an everyday quality: a phone rings, a car starts, the pages of a book are turned, water drips, a cigarette is smoked. Very quiet, familiar sounds are amplified into strange new shapes. Despite their temporary flirtation with traditional instruments, Matmos' conceptual antics remain: in a Cage-ian gesture, a dice game determined the selection and content of the tiny sample snippet clouds within the first song "Last Delicious Cigarette," with dice rolls selecting records by Penderecki, Minor Threat, Enoch Light, Mandrill, a "Costar" record with Fernando Lamas, and a recording of a Heidegger lecture. The resulting song starts off as tongue-in-cheek turntablism and ends in a ditch with a dark, scraping drone. "Action At A Distance" pits Dave Pajo's tranquil guitar figures against the distorted noise of water dripping on a heavily-amplified copper sheet. Listen carefully and you'll hear the crisp pages of a Bible turning. "Sun On 5 at 152," an ode to a favorite strip of freeway, flickers between gentle repetitions of Mark Lightcap's acoustic guitar and discrete, unnerving digital edits before bursting into full drums/banjo/violin/cello orchestration and peaking with thirty seconds of drum and bass. "The West" ambitiously fuses distinct sections into a continuous 20-minute road trip across quasi-country, kosmische space music, electro, Krautrock, free-jazz, and full-on noise. The final song "Tonight, The End" is a sleazy take on stripper jazz featuring Jim Putnam (of Radar Bros.) on trumpet, Rick Brown (from Run On) at the kit, and Mark Lightcap's talents on the peck horn. Matmos is Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt.