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Matmos – Supreme Balloon

Released on Matador Records, 4/6/08

Remember the first time you put on goggles and sank to the bottom of the pool and watched what the water does to noise? The music of Matmos doesn’t sound too different from that. On its seventh album the electronic duo is at their weird, experimental best. They’re off the deep end, as it were.

The album is Supreme Balloon, a title I love because, when well-executed, electronic music provides new perspectives. Matmos expertly references rock, techno, drone and classical music, often in the span of a single programmed phrase. The duo of songs that begin the record pin down and bludgeon the boundaries of genre. Track one is “Rainbow Flag", and it sounds like the theme song to "Leave it to Beaver" if it were remade for the Jetson’s to watch. “Polychords", the second song, sounds like The Knife belongs on the remix. As a song it’s less campy, even straighter-forward, but the sounds are tremendously alien.

The thousands of small ideas tessellate into the album’s title track, which doubles as the one big idea. “Supreme Balloon” (the song) is 24-minutes long and begins with minutes of Meddle-era Floyd-ian tones. About three minutes in, the track begins to sound ritualistic, almost like the hippy spirit of the 70s is trapped in an Excel spreadsheet. This is an interesting look for electronic music, where the sounds try and sound organic, like guitars or chanting voices or hand drums. In such capable hands, it’s hypnotic.

All these mixtures and textures and variations make Matmos -- and Supreme Balloon -- incredible. All the metaphors I can think of for this music revolve around childlike concepts of fun: it’s a playground of sound, a theme park of noises, a summer vacation for songs. It’s music that refuses to grow up.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars