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Matmos with Si Schroeder

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cover image In the already bloated festival market, I nearly missed any mention of the new Future Days festival here in Dublin. Just as well I did find out as it is a sterling line up across three days. Opening the festival were Matmos with support from Dublin's own Si Schroeder. The standard was set for the weekend and it was high, very high.


Andrews Lane Theatre, Dublin, 12 June

Si Schroeder is a name I have encountered a lot in recent months but has been left on the very long list of artists to investigate at a later date. I am sorry I left it so long as he (and his band) but on a great show. Granted things started off a bit slow with a solo acoustic song that was fine but a whole evening of this before someone like Matmos would wear a bit thin. The song did end on a brilliant two note refrain that seemed to go on forever but getting better with each repetition. From then on, the full band joined him and the style shifted significantly to a more dreamy sound, the vocals somewhat lost in the mix but sounding dreamy nonetheless.

cover imageOnce the stage had been set up for Matmos, the house lights were turned off. Some red laser pointers appeared on the stage and I thought to myself that some yahoo was acting the fool but as the lasers trained on some of objects on the stage I realized what was going on. Matmos had set up three optical theremins (the robot pictured above being one of them) and were playing them with the lasers from the back of the venue. Moving through the crowd with torches, they built up the sound into a thunderstorm of tiny lights and big noises. Camera flashes allowed some of the audience to partake in the proceedings (I can now say I have improvised live with Matmos) and the trio climbed onto the stage to begin the next piece (J Lesser again joining Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt to expand the sounds available on stage).

cover imageThe pieces were as much visual as they were sonic as Schmidt had a DVD prepared for each song. A video of a girl lying on a table, talking about hallucinations or synaesthetic experiences, accompanied the first song played from the stage. As she talked about "white triangles," Daniel would strike a triangle and process it into strange new sounds. This side of Matmos, working with the conceptual as much as with the musical, is both their strongest and weakest aspect. Sometimes I find that what works on paper does not always translate to music too well. When it does work, it is immensely good and tonight was one of those nights; I have never loved Matmos more.

cover imageOne of the better moments of their set was the perfect rendition of "Public Sex for Boyd McDonald." Seeing them pull together the different sounds is like watching a magician sawing a woman in half; you know roughly what he's doing but where the hell is she keeping her legs? A more transparent piece involving Daniel looping guitars played by Schmidt and Lesser was to follow and despite the source sounds being so obvious, the final forms of the sound moved beyond simple strings and pickups.

As enjoyable as the concert was, nothing could prepare me for the huge synthesiser jam that was to come towards the end of the set. When I used to read about Tangerine Dream as a teenager, I imagined something like "Supreme Balloon" (and Tangerine Never really delivered in the end for me). Beats would emerge from the ether; although I got the feeling they were artefacts from creating the other sounds that were being commandeered by Matmos. Space split in front of me and time collapsed in on itself and pushed out the other side, well not literally but if such an event was to happen then during this piece would be the moment. Luckily I was sitting on the edge of the stage as I think even trying to stand while listening to this would have been challenging.

cover imageIntense, magical and fun; it kicked the pants off anything I have seen in at least a year of hard gigging. If I may slip into gross hyperbole for just one sentence, Matmos are gods among men when comes to electronic music. Returning to reasonable statements, this was an unforgettable night and I sincerely mean it when I say I would be very surprised if any gig this year topped this evening's performance.

Last Updated on Monday, 16 June 2008 02:51  


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