Coming May 6 : Matmos’ ‘Supreme Balloon’ LP/CD



The new album from Matmos finds the dynamic duo taking a holiday from conceptual responsibility, skipping the outrĂ© sampling antics in favor of a lighthearted “cosmic pop” record made entirely out of synthesizers. Leave it to Matmos to invent a hard and fast rule that they have to follow even when they’re just having fun: the creative restriction this time around is that “Supreme Balloon” is an ALL synthesizer album and no microphones were used at any point. That’s right, no household objects played in a percussive manner, no snails or blood or amplified semen, no acoustic instruments, no voices of famous people for five seconds, not even any half-way cheating with Vocoders, just synthesizers of all shapes, sizes, eras and nationalities being snipped, folded and reshuffled by an arsenal of samplers and computers into colorful sound-origami.

Gear fetishists take note: the exotic and antiquated synths used on the record heavily spotlight the classic 60s/70s/80s consumer electronic rigs of Arp, Korg, Roland, Waldorf and Moog, and feature modular systems from Electro-Comp, Doepfer and Akai (hell, even a stylophone and a Suzuki Omnichord show up); these were recorded at home in San Francisco, California and in the SnowGhost studio at Whitefish, Montana. But there are also completely unique, one-of-a-kind modular curios present, such as the “Coupigny” modular synthesizer housed in the INA/GRM studios at Radio France in Paris and used extensively by some of the titans of musique-concrete. Guest players invited to the party include living treasure of American jazz Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra (he plays the E.V.I. or Electronic Voice Instrument, a breath controlled oscillator, on “Mister Mouth”), Bay Area troublemakers Jon Leidecker (aka Wobbly), East Coast electroacoustic sages Jay Lesser and Keith Fullerton Whitman, and classically trained pianist Sarah Cahill. Plus, our roll-call of the good and great would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the gatefold double vinyl and ITunes edition of the album also includes the bonus track “Hashish Master” that features a guest solo synth improvisation from none-other-than minimalist mastermind Terry Riley(!). Though it was recorded all over the world over the last two years, the whole shebang was finished in Baltimore, Maryland (the band’s new home, at least as long as Drew Daniel is a professor in the English Department at Johns Hopkins University), and comes encased in some truly gorgeous watercolor artwork by Robert Syrett.

To break it down: the album drops with a bumpin’ front end of four rhythmic workouts (perky, stomping, toe-tapping, and shuffling, respectively) that coach Perrey & Kingsley and 8-bit video game music and kitsch Latin Moogsploitation into some freaky positions. Then things take a classy European vacation in which the baroque composer Francois Couperin’s “Les Folies Francaises” is given the Wendy Carlos treatment. Then the band turn a corner into unexpected, ambitious new territory and things swell to a truly ridiculous/heroic climax. The jewel in the crown is the album’s title track, a 24 minute monster synth jam that builds from a lone Roland SH-101 wobbling your sub-woofers into a celestial, psychedelic epic whose spiraling arpeggios recall the sidelong LP-era mind-journeys of Cluster, Mother Mallard and Vangelis. Riding an insistent tabla pattern courtesy of a “Taal Mala” drum machine from India, warm, bubbling layers of analogue synthesis, and the chattering and chirping of MAX patches shaking hands with boutique EFX pedals, it’s a long strange trip indeed. Things cool down with an ambient air kiss and it’s over.

We know you’re probably shaking your head and thinking to yourself, “an electronic band makes an all-electronic album? These guys must be CRAZY.” And you’d be right. Consider this revenge for all those Queen records whose liner notes said “And nobody played the synthesizer!”, and a sweet surprise from a truly unpredictable American band.

“Rainbow Flag” – mp3, from ‘Supreme Baloon’ LP/CD (US- May 6, 2008, UK/EU, May 5 2008)

Wanted : Singers For A Musical Film

Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch is looking for vocalists for the musical film, 'God Help The Girl' which he has been developing over the last year or so. To do this, he has teamed up with iMeem to conduct a search for female vocalists who are interested in taking part. At the God Help The Girl profile you can read much more about the project and, if you are interested, submit a version of one of two songs for his consideration.

You can read Stuart's introduction to "God Help The Girl" here and even if you are not considering entering – drop by and join up with iMeem to keep up with the project and hear the songs – 'The Psychiatrist Is In' and a  new version of  'Funny Little Frog' as sung by Catherine Ireton.

Good luck!

Limited Edition Matador Tees – Now On Sale

(while t-shirt sales may or may not prove lucrative, we cannot argue with the results of the controversial "Clone Miwa Okumura Project".  4 product managers, one paycheck!)

As mentioned previously, to commemorate Matador's barely legal status (ie. we're celebrating our 18th this year), we have commissioned a series of t-shirts. Created by artists, musicians, friends, and friends of friends (including Mogollon, Yo La Tengo's James McNew, Blair Kelly, and others) these shirts are limited to runs of 200 per design, and once they're gone, they're gone.  The first batch are available now, and, as inevitably as sequels to Shrek "Police Academy, more are coming soon.

We're selling them through the Matador Store, as well as through select retailers.  As they become available more designs will be added here where you'll also find the spiel on the individual designers.

Attn : Aspiring T-Shirt Designers

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(illustration by Mogollon)

Dear Friends,To commemorate Matador's barely legal status (ie. we're celebrating our 18th this year), we're commissioning a series of t-shirts. Though the garments are meant to be vaguely label/logo insipired, but we're hoping for something a bit more inspired that our previous designs (though that said, the Matador "that's italian" shirt still goes for crazy loot on eBay).

The shirts will be printed in a limited run of 200 per design, with each designer receiving $250.00 (USD) plus 20 shirts to be peddled or given away as he or she sees fit.  In turn, Matador will flog the remaining shirts for a sum  to-be-determined, but it'll probably be on the pricey side of things. 

The selected designs will be available for viewing on the Matador site & blog for advance purchase, though they'll also be available from select retailers.  We'll provide links to the individual designers' websites, too.

Knock yourselves out. Thank You. 

An Open Letter To The Matador Street Team

(FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY : Gerard, do NOT PUT THIS ON THE BLOG)

Dear Team,

Strong first day numbers for Yo La Tengo’s ‘I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass’, as expected, what with that fucking whirly-bird contest and all the good press we paid for. But before you dislocate your shoulders patting yourselvess on the fucking back, keep in mind that we’re still fighting a losing battle at the big boxes, where this album is still pretty hard to find.

I’m expecting a progress report no later than 3pm today about what sort of mischief our regional kids have been up to in the past 24 hours. I thought we’d made the point that hiding the new John Mayer, Black Keys and Mars Volta CD’s wasn’t merely some kind of rock biz sabotage mission, but could in fact, be framed as an “us vs. them” schism. Indie vs. major. Indie vs. other indie. Me vs. you. You vs. not having a fucking job. Please don’t make me spell this out for you any further.

I’m also told there is no stock at the Borders on Church Street. Enough with the excuses, already, it’s been five fucking years.

OK. I’m off to lift weights. You can reach me on the Fuckberry. I want digital pix of those Black Keys and Mars Volta discs hidden in the country section, I’m not kidding around.

You should be very afraid of me and I will kick your ass.

That was a joke, by the way. You’d better fucking laugh.

Tony Matador

Damage Control Is Our Business (And Business Is Very Good)

From this morning’s New York Times.

Matador Records’ Gerard Cosloy (above) said Tuesday he harbors no hatred towards wearers of straw hats and he apologized to ”everyone in the indie rock community for the vitriolic and harmful words” he used in a infrequently visited, rarely updated weblog.

”Hatred of any kind goes against my faith,” he said in a statement released through publicist Nils Bernstein

”I’m not just asking for forgiveness,” Cosloy said. ”I would like to take it one step further, and meet with the Pitchfork staff, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.”

Cosloy said he’s ”in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that Fuze energy drink inspired display” and hopes members of the Chicago community, ”whom I have personally offended,” will help him in his recovery efforts.

”There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-straw hat remark,” Cosloy said.

”But please know from my heart that I am not against people who wear straw hats or flip-flops in public. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.”

Cosloy acknowledged ”there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that door is not forever closed.”

He said he must take responsibility for making anti-straw hat remarks because as a public person, ”when I say something, either articulated, typed, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. Not very much weight, but enough to impact future party invitations.”