Decades in the making, the musical duo Matmos have built upon their noisy and experimental past to create increasingly conceptual albums that collide together many worlds of thought and style. On their latest album, The Marriage of True Minds, M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel have properly outdone themselves, this time basing their project on a concept so well-crafted that its exact specifications shall never be known by anyone save for the band members themselves. At the heart of these vagaries are experiments in extrasensory projections -- that's right, ESP -- though be not fooled: Matmos are skeptical in their own way. Daniel is quick to drop the fun fact that belief in ESP is still considered a symptom of schizophrenia, so outlandish it seems to scientific professionals -- but all that hardly matters in the context of Matmos' project, for they aren't looking to shift any scientific paradigms. No, they are looking to shift their own musical paradigm, and five years of conducting artistic ESP research and synthesizing its results have led to what may perhaps be the band's most exciting record yet. What's more, Matmos have proven that growing with age and experience have not made them any tamer. Their apparently unyielding desire to explore the strange and experimental is as strong as ever, even if it is taking on many different shapes along the way.

 

Last year, the NSFW video for Kirin J. Callinan's "Way To War (WIIW)" caught my attention with its punk rock Lars Von Trier visual choices. Just recently, the same director, Kris Moyes, released a music video for Grizzly Bear's "gun-shy" -- crystallizing what I would say is the best track from the band's latest offering, Shields, into a sputtering-in-time work of natural and "scientific" strangeness. Expect a compare-and-contrast interview with Moyes about both of these videos in the coming month -- but for now, relish in the animated .gifs and the video's delicious sleight of hand, tripped out subtle magic. Full clip inside, along with an initial statement from Moyes about the work.

 

"Music for me is ooooold Tom Jones," croaked the homeless man with a weathered smile. He'd boisterously wandered into Robert Henke and I's conversation a moment ago. He mumbles a few other lines -- classic no doubt, but indecipherable -- before we tell him that we need to get back to our interview before Henke's lecture that evening. Jarring as it was at first, I felt that the old man's last quotable words were hilariously relevant to the talk I was having with Henke. As Henke and I talked about the evolution of music production and consumption as it relates to the tools involved with both, the old man was a reminder of just how far everything has come.
Henke has much to say about the use of engineering and interface construction as creative mediums -- ones that are practiced by unsung hierophants of the esoteric arts of electronics and software development. Being the last man standing of influential minimal techno pioneers turned multi-sensory space voyagers, Henke is a learned man on this subject. His electronic dance project Monolake is world-reknowned for its 6-channel, audio-visual performances, and his work as one of the principle designers behind Ableton Live has contributed to making the music software an industry standard. One could even say that Henke has had more influence over the last ten years on the way millions of people create and perform their music globally than any bigger-selling musicians or producers, simply because he helped build the instruments we're all using to bring our ideas to life. Not that he would jump to point that out, mind you; Henke isn't quick to list his accomplishments, but he is sincere in noting his place in the lineage of artists who have fashioned their own tools. Out of the joy of solving puzzles and the need to make that sound, image, etc. their own way, those engineer-artists have inadvertently come up with novel technologies that the rest of us can not only enjoy, but use to create our own works.
"I see a lot of similarities between fascinating engineering and fascinating art. Both have to do with craftsmanship; both have to do with finding a simple solution for a complex problem. And it has to do with elegance and needs inspiration. It’s underestimated how much inspiration goes into good engineering, and how much artistic thinking is involved in good engineering." - Robert Henke
   

 

There is a moment on the new Flying Lotus record -- let's call it the first five seconds -- when one has to decide whether to climb aboard Steve Ellison's shimmering magic carpet for the next half hour (or century... drugs like this tend to distort time a little) or to simply survey the beautiful landscape he's laid out on his newest album-trip, Until the Quiet Comes. I say this because like all Flying Lotus records, there are a myriad of experiences to be had within the layers of subtle details, ranging from active to passive and or up and down to goddamn spiritually ecstatic.

 

Imagine the possibilities of world revolution – an upheaval of design, and distribution of resources lighting the path to global peace and (relative) happiness. The largesse of this task is daunting, and has throughout history been commandeered by a few ambitious individuals. Thoughts like these swirled about in a small man with coke-bottle glasses: the inimitable R. Buckminster Fuller. Inventor, engineer, architect, theorist, orator, among many other things, Fuller was first and foremost a futurist – an optimistic man bent on improving his social, political, psychic and physical world with radical thought. His unique life and lifestyle have created an altogether compelling character of sizeable proportion, comprised of all the quirks, hiccups, and gemstone moments worthy of a Wes Anderson-inspired montage. And certainly, director Sam Green’s treatment of Fuller and his life work is admirable in The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a live documentary collaboration with indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo.
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SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. Last time's was a dark baby featuring BEAK>, Nguzunguzu, and Outlands, and this time doesn't really let up either, with new tracks from Matmos, who explore parapsychology on their new EP, Clark who goes dancefloor with his upcoming Fantasm Planes, and Motion Sickness Of Time Travel's limited edition cassette.

Matmos

October 18th, 2012 Update: 3-D forms hover and float like spacecrafts in this music video by l-inc design. The group, fascinated by Matmos' approach to their record (detailed below) "worked on the video without consulting the band, counting on psychic cues to guide them."
Matmos' upcoming EP, The Ganzfeld, coming out on Thrill Jockey Records on October 16th (with a full-length, The Marriage Of True Minds, to follow). Part fantasy war march cinematics and part muted monk chants, this initial track, an edit of "Very Large Green Triangles", could be adequate music for a Mars Rover Landing or a post-Bubonic Plague Christmas. The sonics themselves are convincing and fascinating, but the twenty-year collaboration between Matmos' M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel contains fascinating conceptual underpinnings as well, as both are centered around telepathy. For the past four years, the duo has been exploring parapsychological experiments based upon ganzfeld experiments (detailed below).
Original track and Schwarz remix of "Very Large Green Triangles" to follow. Pre-Order Matmos - The Ganzfeld EP

 

San Francisco artist Alexis Arnold loves to explore unpredictable three-dimensional sculptures. With previous works centered around everything from training bra nets to faux-lawn upholstered decorations, her more recent Past Of Our Future and The Crystallized Book Series sees Arnold mixing scientific experimentation with everyday objects. Combining Borax crystals with things near and dear to human hearts, like vintage furniture and weathered books, Arnold grows wonderfully organic forms out of objects both malleable and solid, invoking nostalgia all along the way. As Arnold says herself in the following interview, "Time (and its physical/visual presence) is an ever-present concept in my work, as well as a large factor in crystal growth" -- and it is this idea that adds even more importance to the past in her sculptures, as it contrasts with the present.
"Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway." -- J.D. Salinger - Catcher In The Rye

 

Art expertly captured in the most fleeting of moments. European artists Berndnaut Smilde and Ryan Hopkinson manufacture weather for some truly awesome temporary installations.

 

Berndnaut Smilde

Hanging high up in the skies above us, we often forget that clouds are real things made out of materials and circumstances that are very much present in our daily lives. In his Nimbus series, Netherlands artist Berndnaut Smilde regulates temperatures and moisture in rooms to trap cloudy bodies within their walls. Truly a rare and appreciated sight and concept. You can see more unconventional works of art on his website.

 

In 2009, David Daniell of San Agustin and Douglas McCombs of Tortoise disassembled and reassembled seven hours of in-studio improvisation into their collaborative LP, Sycamore. For their upcoming 2012 release, Versions, they've given the same seven hours of material and the same creative liberties to engineer and producer Ken Brown to offer up his assemblage of choice. The experimental approach has led to two vastly different records that still live in the same sonic universe. The surprisingly little amount of content overlap between the two releases sees to be, in and of itself, evidence of the importance of individual perspectives. Versions comes out May 15th on Thrill Jockey Records, and its initial introduction to the public comes in the form of a slow-motion video directed and conceptualized by filmmaker Timothy Leeds, with the help of David Merten. As the sounds of "30265" teeter gently upon small instrumental seesaws, shapes in Leeds' video pulse and throb in subtle response. In the Q&A below, Leeds describes the video creation process and some of the decisions behind it.

 

 

VOLCANIC REMNANT, MAELIFELLSANDUR, ICELAND Bright green moss has colonized a hill in the middle of Maelifellsandur, a black desert of lava and volcanic ash in Iceland. The hill is all what remains of a once active cinder cone, ground down by ice of the nearby retreating Maelifell glacier.

 

Bernhard Edmaier is an aerial photographer living in a small village in Germany, but his photography takes him to exquisite corners of the world, where his interest in natural phenoma thrives. There and beyond, he documents the colors and patterns of the Earth's surface that are astounding, mind-blowing, and full of grandeur. All of the images below are paired with geologic explanations from his website -- where you can see more photos.
(via butitdoesfloat) PAINTED HILLS, OREGON, USA There have been volcanoes in the Oregon area for 30 Million years ago, blasting huge amounts of ash into the sky. Winds and rivers carried the ash to where the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument now lies. This volcanic ash built up, layer after layer, continually burying the marshes and forests that flourished in the moist and warm tropical climate of the period. The heavy stroms that rain down here today carve gullies into the soft layers of ash and, over time, have created the striped landscape of Painted Hills. The yellow and red layers owe their colour to eroded volcanic materials, while the dark blurry flecks are the remains of dead vegetation.