Flag-bearers for a laptop techno scene that habitually trumps them in all but ambition, the two soundsmiths in Matmos made their names with heady deconstructions buoyed by high-concept aims. Their 2001 album A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure used samples of surgeries and slurpy medical procedures as sound sources, while earlier works traded on split shares of such un-techno stock as banjos and ukuleles. Intriguing ideas haven't always led to intriguing results, though, as past Matmos chop-ups have wilted in a chilly middle-ground both overly aware and insufficiently mindful of their thematic roots. The Civil War hovers somewhere between the two extremes, but this time Matmos crafts a convincing sonic history project that works its digressions into something more probing and consistent. The backdrop comprises 19th-century battlefield hymns and murmurs, which get chewed up and spat out in variously faithful guises. "Regicide" starts off with interlocking hurdy-gurdy drones and flute flights wrapped in thwacky march beats. "Zealous Order Of Candied Knights" warms up its shared theme with bits of bassoon and hand drums that set the stage for the meticulous meltdown of "Reconstruction," which starts off noisy and morphs into acoustic moods mellow and moving enough for a Ken Burns documentary. It takes a few listens for the full timeline to take shape, but even seemingly unrelated passages–fidgety post-rock riffs, brash fractal beats somewhere between Aphex Twin and Autechre–blur into a whole that makes sense of the space between chiming sine waves and John Philip Sousa's "Stars And Stripes Forever." There's nothing as swooningly musical as the backdrop Matmos made for Björk's Vespertine, but The Civil War updates its old fixtures into something just as warm and homey.

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