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Matmos, "A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure"

Kid 606 wasn't far from the truth when he claimed that "Matmos are the A-Team of electronica" — the new full-length album is a triumph for this San Franciscan duo. Their fourth album follows along the progression taken with 'The West,' moving even further away from random technological fuckery on their first two to create a cohesive, conceptual, organized result.


The sound sources and concepts here all involve various surgical/medical practices and procedures, beginning with liposuction and continuing with eye surgery, acupuncture, and ending in plastic surgery. Surgical instruments have become musical instruments and have been carefully interwoven with organic and electronic musical instruments and sound samples recorded directly in the medical offices. The two head surgeons Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt have also pulled in specialists like Cyclobe/Coil's Stephen Thrower on clarinet, spoken contributions from instrumentalists Kid 606 and Hrvatski, plus various other friends scattered around the album. While the medical theme is global on this release, the styles and moods change impressively between the seven songs. The group has turned liposuction into a beefy bass-heavy post-kraut jam on the album's opener, "Lipostudio". On "Spondee" the duo have morphed various spondees (look it up in the dictionary) and combined them with corresponding sound effects with hearing test tones and cranked out a compelling butt-shaking house tune. "For Felix" (first exhibited on tour last year along with nearly all of the songs on this disc) is an intricate 5+ minute piece crated from bowing and plucking a rat cage, dedicated to their late rat (and all the caged lab rats across the world who die in the name of medicine). Ambient low-end sounds created from connective tissue provide a warm foundation for the percussive sounds of human skull and artificial teeth on "Memento Mori", and the brilliant head-nodding classic "California Rhinoplasty" closes the disc with a ten minutes of plastic surgery samples in an evolving multi-themed epic. 'A Chance to Cut,...' is quite an accomplishment as the group has brought the term 'album' back into the phrase 'concept album' - the recording easily graces two sides of a record totalling a comfortable 46 minutes. Matmos has also once again brought a bold amount of personality and enthusiasm to their flawlessly competant mix of electronical sorcery, something the Euro electronica elite seem to be lacking after all these years. It's not minimal, it's not abstract, it's a damned good solid record.