Although it's been over two years since their last true album (A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure) came out, there have been no letdown in the number of releases that you could find the duo contributing to. In addition to their limited Live With J Lesser release, they also dropped A Viable Alternative To Actual Sexual Contact under the pseudonym of Vague Terrain and Drew Daniel put out a post-house booty thump under the name of the Soft Pink Truth. Just in case that weren't enough, this newest (and also limited) CD features the duo going triple-team with laptop artists People Like Us and Wobbly for a giddy-up electronic mash that skewers country and comes off as one of the best live improvisations that I've probably ever heard.
This CD is actually a performance that took place back in October of 2002, and it was (and I believe still is) available online in a super high-quality download. I'd downloaded it when it was available and even burned it to CD and made a cover for it to stick on my shelf since I'd found it so damn entertaining. When it was finally announced that it would be released as a limited-edition, I had to get an actual copy, not only because I wanted to support the artists, but because with the rate of copyrighted material that the trio uses, it might get some sort of lawsuit thrown at it by a country-artist hired lawyer who has nothing better to do than mess with well-intentioned electronic artists who just want to have a little fun.
And really, having fun is what this release is all about. It opens with the track "Morning," as desolate spaghetti-western guitars drift out to the horizon before cut-up sound samples start filling in the gaps. It eventually drifts into the absolutely hilarious "Dolly Pardon," a bizarre track in which single syllables (most notably a man stuttering) are turned into melodies that intertwine with acoustic guitars and little bits of cut-up vocal samples (even some from the star that the track derived its name from) spit out from all angles, creating herky-jerky track that makes me smile every time I hear it.
Basically, that's par for the course on the release. Old western movies, country music, radio spots, and literally everything else is cut up and used. Nothing is sacred as everything is hacked to bits and thrown in the audio stew. "Clawing Your Eyes Out Down To Your Throat" uses bits from Fistfull Of Dollars and other sources, tossing them over a juicy beat, while "Holler" is a downright funky downtempo track that has more goofy samples tossed in over the top along with stuttering guitar hooks. On "Shenandoah," a cowboy's lament is flipped into bizarro-world as sped-up samples pop out of the woodwork to oddly punctuate all the wrong moments. "Unshackled" sounds like it could have even come from an alternative take off Matmos' The West album.
To say that this is a weird release is probably an understatement, but if you appreciate the more experimental and fun work that Matmos has done, or if you're a fan of either People Like Us (who has worked with Negativeland among others) or Wobbly, you'll most likely find something to enjoy. A friend of mine who doesn't even get into most Matmos work recently discovered this release and it has been permanently lodged in his player nearly since. It's fun, and often times even quite musical, and actually works quite well as a woozy little soundtrack to summer. Roll down your windows and freak out the neighbors.