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Matmos / Adam Rosenblatt / UnicaZürn (live at The Lantern)

Bristol
9 June 2016

Matmos live at The LanternMatmos‘ new record Ultimate Care II is centred round a washing machine, and lo and behold that’s what is centre stage tonight at The Lantern, two microphones pointing at its innards. The rest of the stage is overrun with the band’s tech, squeezing the support UnicaZürn into the far reaches.

Personally, I was really excited by the opportunity to see UnicaZürn again, having seen them strut their arcane stuff at the Horse Hospital a few years back, and by later listening to their hauntingly brilliant Dark Earth Distillery LP; and I wasn’t disappointed, as their murky modulations once again proved to be top notch.

Slow regal colours that wicker-weaved, conjuring a host of wavering outlines to a criss-cross of evolving, evaporating drone. Eerie architectures that gelled well with the on-screen owls and their queasy contortion of heads, those pothole pitch eyes (shudders) staring out to the audience. This ever-present pulsing under and overtow pulling at everything, leaking plenty of shadowy betweens as the projected solar flares broke off from the sun in plumbed slo-mo, a curdling cosmos full of shimmering glints and pinball-like zithers, rippling conversations that tapering-tailed a strange melodic. Then Stephen Thrower‘s clarinet hits, snaking a Byzantine flower of yawning phantoms to which David Knight skutters across some arching ribbons that furnish, fornicate as the smoke above them momentarily forms a figure whose face aether-slips back to oblivion, just like their artist namesake.

UnicaZürn live at The Lantern

Adam Rosenblatt live at The Lantern

After a short interval, further oddness came in the shape of Adam Rosenblatt  – how I love unbilled treats– a classically trained percussionist who, blank-faced and seated, re-enacts Mark Applebaum‘s Aphasia, a comedy of synced hand gestures to pre-recorded sonic abruptness which has him piloting some invisible machine to nowhere. Utterly bonkers stuff the Matmos team obviously warmed to and have adopted his (less virtual) talents into the rest of their show.

Their performance starts with a request for clothes to put into the machine. Somebody throws a t-shirt that falls short (on top of my head to be exact); I throw it on to MC Schmidt and the show commences in watery delicates. Splashes and motorised whirs are manipulated into dancey abstracts, mechanised flavours cut into fluid flashes and tanz spasms that skipping-rope a host of radiant colours.

Matmos live at The Lantern

A whole host of handtapped, drumsticked action later breaks out in unison to the chugg-a-lugg of the box, bringing on the Test Department / Neubauten love. Rhythmics capture the zizz of the machinery fizzing like a refresher on the tongue when brushed down with wire batons, the life of the everyday Technicoloring your head, flirting with plenty of toe-tapping goodness. Later in complete reverence – they take a break, just meditating to the unadulterated wishy-wash of the inners.

Matmos live at The Lantern

You wouldn’t believe how versatile a washing machine could be as a sound source, and after smearing water around its white surface, a host of squeaky rubbing ensues in a Grandmaster Flash type scratch-a-thon that gets Drew Daniel‘s head bopping along pigeon stylee. Meanwhile, he enjoys adding a strange exotica to the jiving impetus from behind his hefty processing powerbooks pumping out a host of digital beats, scooping creamy textures, Schmidt humping the machine’s surface to a choir of hilarious faux orgasms. I always loved Matmos’ tongue in cheekiness and they are on perfect form, beyond conceptual, providing an imaginative examination of the washing machine’s entire cycle that truly deserves the massive applause it gets.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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