The experimental electronic music duo Matmos has made a name for themselves creating melodic, even catchy, tracks from exotic audio samples. For example, their 2001 album, A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure, used audio recorded during plastic surgery -- snips, clicks, and unnerving squishy sounds. Their latest release from Thrill Jockey Records, The Ganzfeld EP, was inspired by the telepathy experiments of the same name. The procedure borders on sci-fi; a subject undergoes mild sensory deprivation (listening to white noise through headphones with two halved ping-pong balls over his or her eyes). In this state, the subject attempts to receive information telepathically transmitted from another person, reporting his or her experiences out loud. Matmos, aka M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, recreated this setup and recorded audio samples that became the source material for the Ganzfeld EP, including the track below, "Very Large Green Triangles."
For the music video, Matmos enlisted Bay Area motion graphics company L.inc Design and told them to use their own "intuition" to envision the track. "Somehow 'Psychic Producing' seemed appropriate for music inspired by ESP sessions!" the company joked. Departing from the more buttoned-down work they do for their corporate clients, L.inc whipped up a surreal blend of sunny footage of San Francisco, weird stock images, and, of course, very large, floating, green triangles. "Psychic cues, '70s progressive rock album covers, and '80s alternate reality science fiction inspired our thinking," the creative team writes on their Vimeo page. The video was directed by Ed Apodaca and Audrey Karleskind and produced by Donnie MCormick, with creative director Lisa Berghout. The full credits are available here.
Thrill Jockey shares the story of how the Ganzfeld EP recording came together on their site:
For the past four years the band have been conducting parapsychological experiments based upon the classic Ganzfeld (“total field”) experiment, but with a twist: instead of sending and receiving simple graphic patterns, test subjects were put into a state of sensory deprivation by covering their eyes and listening to white noise on headphones, and then Matmos member Drew Daniel attempted to transmit “the concept of the new Matmos record” directly into their minds. During videotaped psychic experiments conducted at home in Baltimore and at Oxford University, test subjects were asked to describe out loud anything they saw or heard within their minds as Drew attempted transmission. The resulting transcripts became a kind of score that was then used by Matmos to generate music. If a subject hummed something, that became a melody; passing visual images suggested arrangement ideas, instruments, or raw materials for a collage; if a subject described an action, then the band members had to act out that out and make music out of the noises generated in the process of the re-enactment ...“Very Large Green Triangles (Edit)” begins with a tiny sung riff which the test subject Ed Schrader seemed to hear in his mind during his psychic session. This riff is paired with a classic Baltimore club beat and orchestral and choral stabs faintly reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack music for “The Omen”. The result is a kind of urban gothic anthem to a primordial geometric image generated during a psychic experiment (please consult the lyric sheet for the full transcript of Ed Schrader’s wild and wooly psychedelic vision). Ed was asked to re-sing words and phrases from his psychic transcript, and these vocal snippets are chopped and stacked over a frantic vogue-ball kick drum pattern.
The EP is available here, in a special limited-edition release with a pair of Incase Sonic Headphones and custom "Ganzfeld goggles" (which look a little like tanning booth glasses, actually) so that you can conduct your own experiments in telepathic communication.
Via Vimeo Staff Picks.
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