Since 1997, Matmos's quirky, creative brand of electronic music has been tough to pin down stylistically. The experimental duo of Martin Schmidt and Drew Daniel has crafted inventive, sound-rich records of their own, and collaborated with forward-thinking artists such as the classical ensemble So Percussion and even with the constantly genre-bending Bjork. But even for Matmos, its new high-concept album, The Marriage Of True Minds, is a something of a left turn: The record is centered around paranormal or parapsychological brain activity, and specifically, telepathy.
The group's inclusion of telepathy into the creative process was a subtle twist on the Ganzfeld experiment, an extrasensory perception (ESP) test that utilizes sensory deprivation. In the case of Matmos' song "Very Large Green Triangles," Daniel instructed a friend to lie on a mattress while his hearing was drowned out by white noise and his sight was obscured by ping pong balls that were cut in half.
“He was told to empty his mind," explains Daniel, "and told that I would try to transmit the concept of the new Matmos album into his mind. He was told to describe anything he saw, and if he heard anything, to hum it. So hummed this odd little phrase, and we decided to work with that."
What emerged after four years of experiments like this is an album with a thoroughly distinct sound.
Schmidt and Daniel perform songs from The Marriage Of True Minds and further discuss its album concept with Soundcheck host John Schaefer.