Matmos MUTEK, Montreal QC, August 21

Matmos MUTEK, Montreal QC, August 21
Photo: Myriam Ménard
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"You're familiar with plastic. It's inside your lungs. And your stomach and your liver and your brain." 
 
Addressing our particle-level relationship with plastic in a cheeky introduction to their practice, at the top of their set, Matmos explained that everything they were about to play was composed using sounds sourced from the material and set the tone for the night.
 
Taking on police states, plastic surgery, ocean pollution and other hard-to-swallow pills with accompanying visual projections in a set that highlighted how expertly M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel can maneuver such heavy-handed content, they offered up a series of off-the-wall techno compositions mixing found sounds (police shields and rubber bullets, for example) as well as building up tracks on live samples of percussion work with water cooler jugs and novelty sized capsule pills — and then bridging those compositions with crowd work and nonchalant gestures like "How 'bout a didactic eco-parallel?" They capped it all off with a sound art piece, Schmidt crinkling various plastic bags into a mic while Daniel processed plastic sloshing on the surface of the ocean into a massive wave-like roar.
 
In most dance music contexts, the comedic breaks probably wouldn't work, but since Matmos prioritize sampling so high in their M.O., those bits served the important purpose of allowing the pair to reset for each track. They've figured out how to use it to their advantage, leavening the atmosphere so you can still find it in you to dance while you're listening to, say, riot cops militarizing crowd control.