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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Civil War
Matador Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
The new music dweebs aren't behind laptops creating 45 minute remixes of "Hungry Eyes" for self release on homepages. Nor are they hiding behind daily blog entries recording the minutiae of their musical endeavors. No, you might find the pioneers, like all pioneers, pushing the limits, out in the field, experimenting, recording things like rabbit food for shits and giggles. Or you might find them in the classroom, imparting their wisdom to others, teaching music theory to pasty white kids with clunky shoes and diminished social skills. Matmos has logged time doing both, and there are examples of both experiences on The Civil War.

Experimentation is something Matmos is familiar with. Their previous long player A Chance to Cut is a Chance To Cure was sort of a concept album for the medical industry. They sampled various noises heard around hospitals from the beeps and whistles of machinery to the sucking sound a liposuction tube makes while in use, to create music. The disc was made up largely of these sounds. It seems Matmos' purpose is to rearrange notions of what music is and what music can be.

With all this "pushing the boundaries of sound" shit, you might expect some weirdly tuneless, minimalist garbage, that's more avant/ German sounding than warm and inviting. But thankfully, Matmos' use of textured and subtle arrangements is soothing, and more organic and charming than cold and rigid.

"Zealous Order of Candied Knights" brings back memories of third grade with the prominent usage of a recorder. It sounds a bit like music the Lord of Dance might have in his stage show if he was really into Autechre. Some of the songs, like the opening "Regicide", begin with somewhat chaotic introduction, or conversely a minimalist and whispering melody like "For the Trees" but what Matmos do expertly is develop a song. So regardless if a piece starts out like a lion or a lamb, the ideas evolve and the instrumentation gets richer and dense.

Even when Matmos experiments its greatest skill is creating an accessible and interesting piece of work, that is enjoyable to listen to and not strictly electronic noodling for the sole purpose of experimentation. "Pelt and Holler" uses rabbit pellets shaken and stirred and so on to create a nice little backbone to the song. "Stars and Stripes Forever" (the John Phillips Sousa American Standard) samples various Harvard seminar students playing "instruments" such as Apple, Smoothie, and Knuckles. If you don't find either slightly amusing then you need to put down the laptop and get out more.

However the best songs are the dark and haunting, vaguely Mogwai influenced "The Stuggle against Unreality" and the warmer and Americana influenced "Reconstruction".

Matmos do an excellent job of creating unique and exciiting music than is actually tuneful and enjoyable to listen to while simultaneously breaking new ground. They don't get bogged down in progressive tendencies, and are able to successfully marry ideas of experimentation and accessibility.

Reviewed by Dan Williams
A staff writer based in Brooklyn, New York, Dan Williams is a frequent contributor to LAS magazine. He once lived in Köln, Germany for a semester, is currently persuing his MBA in New York, and recently switched sides and began working as a publicist for Special Ops Media in New York.

See other reviews by Dan Williams



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