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Music Duo Matmos Make Sounds With a Washing Machine


For their new album, Ultimate Care II, they looked no further than the sounds of their own basement.

Courtesy of Josh Sisk.

The experimental duo Matmos--partners Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt--have an uncanny ability to create enjoyable dance music using the unlikeliest of samples (liposuctions, hypnosis sessions). For their new album, Ultimate Care II, they looked no further than their own basement, relying only on sounds taken from their beloved washing machine.

You've explored some insane source material before, but why a washing machine?

Schmidt: It was the lure of working with a thing that's literally right next to our mixing board.

Daniel: A washing machine can seem drab and tedious. But the more time we spent listening to it, the more full of implications it became. Is this about a tool that gave women free time, saved them labor? Or about wasting water during an ecological crisis? Is it a sort of object lesson in why climate change is happening?

It really makes you think about the sounds we're surrounded by all the time--the musicality of objects.

Schmidt: I hope that is the utility of our band. We want to be useful in the world for more than just reminding you how much love hurts, or some dull-ass thing like that.

Daniel: Our album is not going to wash your clothes. It does feature a washing machine, but it's a virtual art washing machine, and maybe it can help you in a different way--to snap you out of your "usefulness" trance for 30 minutes.

Washing machines are also fetish objects for some people. They can be quite sexual.

Daniel: It's true. There's that Kate Bush song where the phrase "washing machine" keeps repeating and she's describing a memory of sex. There's something about the warm sloshing, the relentless vibration...

How will you take this album on the road?

Daniel: We're working on a portable rig with a submersible water pump and a flow regulator, and we're going to try to have laundry actually being done onstage.

After this, do you feel like you could make an album out of anything?

Schmidt: Anything.

Daniel: That's not to cheapen it. It's just to say that everything has music in it. Finding music is about focus and patience and a willingness to listen.

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