Matmos - The Marriage of True Minds
There's no escaping it - this album is batshit crazy in the best possible way, a mind-melting album that makes very little sense on first listen but eventually blossoms into something thrilling and accomplished. It's every bit as WTF-worthy as the concept behind it (it's all to do with the Ganzfeld experiment, which also led to the creation of last year's The Ganzfeld EP - I won't even try to explain it here), but it's this strangeness that makes it utterly compelling. With their first album in five years, Matmos have seemingly set out to prove that there is absolutely nothing they can't get away with... and incredibly, they succeed. Despite its ludicrously experimental origins, The Marriage of True Minds is surprisingly accessible - you just need to give it time. I should know; I'm basing my verdict off having spent weeks with the album, and even now I don't fully understand it, but that's half the fun.
The free-jazz horns on 'Mental Radio' give the track a delightful urgency, the drop coming two minutes in, after being introduced by crackles of static and exotic percussion as well as the sound of water sloshing around in a bucket, all leading up to the tinkling of a triangle. Previous single 'Very Large Green Triangles' is one of the most accessible moments on the album, even if it manages to work in a honky-tonk piano solo before settling into itself in a manner strangely reminiscent of early Hot Chip. Such moments would be viewed as wildly experimental by most people, but as Matmos open the album with an almost completely deconstructed cover of a song written by members of a German post-punk band ('You'), it's clear that for them, such things are merely the tip of the iceberg. 'Ross Transcript' appears to be made up entirely of found sounds, moving between numerous different moods in its two-and-a-half minute running time, the kind of unpredictable track that would cause all but the most determined to switch off the album and put on something that's slightly less of a mindfuck.
There's quite a reward waiting for those that make it to track five, however: 'Teen Paranormal Romance' is an atmospheric and hook-filled listen that isn't afraid to venture down some stranger avenues, almost collapsing in on itself before the main melody comes crashing back in. The four-on-the-floor beat that drives 'Tunnel', meanwhile, means that it is easily the most dancefloor-ready moment on the album, and signals that the album might be moving towards something resembling 'pop' territory (in the loosest possible sense) - but then comes the 6-minute experimental piece 'In Search of a Lost Faculty', almost entirely composed of samples of speech and melodic fragments, jumping from one to the next in a manner that is quite bracing. Its scattershot nature could be seen as an indication of the album as a whole; The Marriage of True Minds is not an easy listen, and indeed, those who are unaware of what they're in for will be in for quite a shock, but despite initially sounding disparate and unfocused, given time, it coalesces into something which is cohesive in its own unconventional way. Accessible, jarring, borderline unintelligible and fascinating - Matmos's head-spinning new record is all of these things and more.