Matmos - The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form

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Matmos have a playful nature often lacking in electronic composition, bristling with a palpable sense of wide-eyed discovery undiluted across their 25 years as a band. M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel are long-known for their practice of unusual sampling and experimenting with conceptual restrictions.  ‘The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises In Group Form’ is both a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to the backlash against ‘conceptronica’ and their most ambitious project to date. The record is oriented around a deceptively simple commitment. 99 different musicians were asked to contribute: they could play anything that they wanted but the tempo of any rhythmic material had to be set at 99 beats per minute. The resulting album is a three-hour long assemblage that’s a kaleidoscope of genre, mood and density, while all synchronized to a constant underlying tempo. There’s a relentless forward-motion keeping more with traditions of pirate radio and mixtapes than the traditional album format.  ‘The Consuming Flame’ was composed through the act of invitation and the album’s 99 participants are, even for Matmos, wildly eclectic. Some collaborators have worked with Matmos for years (J. Lesser, Jon ‘Wobbly’ Leidecker, Mark Lightcap, Josh Quillen of So Percussion, Vicki Bennett) and some are near total strangers. There are players from the conservatory-trained world of ‘new music’ (Kate Soper, Bonnie Lander, Ashot Sarkissjan, Jennifer Walshe) and figures from the extreme music underground (Blake Harrison of Pig Destroyer, Kevin Gan Yuen of Sutekh Hexen, Terence Hannum of Locrian), as well as auteurs from the world of ‘noise’ music (Twig Harper, Moth Cock, Bromp Treb, Id M Theft Able) as well as writers (Douglas Rushkoff, Colin Dickey) and conceptual artists (Heather Kapplow). There’s distinguished alumni and contemporary luminaries of electronic music (Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma of Mouse on Mars, Daniel Lopatin, DeForrest Brown Jr., J. G. Thirlwell, Matthew Herbert, Rabit, Robin Stewart and Harry Wright of Giant Swan) and artists associated with indie rock and folk traditions (Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew of Yo La Tengo, Marisa Anderson) and undergraduates who took M.C. Schmidt’s ‘Sound As Music’ course during the final year of The San Francisco Art Institute’s existence.  Matmos are one of the most prominent experimental electronic groups of the last decade, with some of the most significant and acclaimed albums in the genre, and their high profile collaborations and shows with artists like Bjork and Kronos Quartet have given them exposure outside of just heady electronic music.  Both members of Matmos are active solo musicians, M.C. Schmidt under his own name and Drew Daniel as The Soft Pink Truth, whose ‘Shall We Go On Sinning...’ received Pitchfork’s Best In Music in 2020.  3-disc CD set comes in a deluxe triple gatefold package with full colour 2ft x 3ft poster.  “A welcome reminder that Matmos has been good at this sort of thing for a very long time.” - PopMatters  “At once dark and joyous, fun and foreboding, gleeful and eerily apocalyptic” - The Quietus  “The concept of the latest Matmos album is undergirded by the compositional integrity, the quality of the sound, and the sickeningly beautiful idea of it all.” - Pitchfork