The Civil War (Matador)
By: Cam Lindsay
After a busy 2001, which saw Matmos release their fourth album, A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure (which freaked and astonished many with its unrestrained use of samples from plastic surgeries, such as nose jobs and lipsuction, which became instruments) and work with Bj?rk on her magical Vespertine, as well as tour as her band, something big was needed for the duo to avoid being overshadowed by their gut-wrenching contribution to music and association with the Icelandic elfin princess. I'm thankful to say, M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel have built on these achievements by time-traveling back to medieval times and the 19th Century for a little change of scenery. Opting for a much less electronic direction, the eclecticism is still maintained through a variety of styles and guests. Including the exquisite work of known experimentalists like David Grubbs, Blevin Blectum and Jay Lesser, The Civil War is highly accessible compared to Schmidt's and Daniel's past works. A good-natured rendition of "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is the finest example of this, spinning the anthem into the product of a demented music box/marching band. "For The Trees" features the most melodic moments yet for Matmos. Featuring slow instrumentation akin to the work of Tortoise, it's surprisingly not unlike Matmos in guitar/drums/bass form, as with its tearful countrified reprise, "For The Trees (Return)". Weaving and bobbing between Chaucer and General Lee, The Civil War is a majestic listen that uses the past to help bring the future closer.
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