Click here to expand and collapse the player


Rate It! Avg: 4.0 (55 ratings)
  • Formed: San Francisco, CA
  • Years Active: 1990s, 2000s
  • Website: http://vague-terrain.com/
  • Recent Activity: 07.10.10 New album just got over a 6 on pitchfork! Now where's the goddamn check everyones talking about?
  • Matmos

  • Matmos

  • Matmos

  • Matmos


Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

All Music Guide:

Matmos was one of the more unlikely left-field experimental electronic acts to appear when their self-titled debut was quietly released on their own Vague Terrain label at the beginning of 1997. Based in San Francisco and completely out of the largely U.K.-dominated electronica loop, the duo (Drew Daniel and Martin C. Schmidt) stood little chance of being heard among the din of marketing budgets and entrenched proppers of popular mainstays such as Warp, Rephlex, and Astralwerks and encroaching big-name acts such as the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy. Closer in spirit to the American indie underground (a notion buoyed by a flood of early press in fixtures such as Alternative Press, Magnet, and Option), the group was also embraced by hardcores of the Autechre/Aphex/µ-Ziq ilk, leading to a feature in highbrow U.K. avant-garde stalwart The Wire and interest from a number of notable European labels.

Although only the pair's first release, Matmos' microscopic abuse of sourcings as varied as electric guitars, freshly cut hair, the amplified neural activity of crayfish, and the human voice (there are a few synthesizers and drum machines in there as well) was instantly distinguishing, conveying an experimental ardor several flow diagrams removed from the more dance-entrenched U.K. electronica scene. While with Matmos that experimentalism is elevated to method, in fact both Schmidt's and Daniel's musical pasts are littered with strange associations, the most bizarre of which is probably King G & the J Krew, a "white funk/rap" outfit that also included Jason Noble (currently of indie salon/string quartet group Rachel's). Schmidt was a founding member of avant-garde electronic group X/I and worked with San Francisco-based experimental music collective IAO Core alongside current members of groups such as Amber Asylum and Tipsy.

Matmos began as a long-distance tape exchange project while Daniel was living in London (he's originally from Kentucky), with the pair settling in the San Francisco Bay area (where Daniel was pursuing a Ph.D.) in the mid-'90s. Schmidt, a visual artist, also co-manages the San Francisco Art Institute's New Genres department. Several releases followed prior to the new millennium: Quasi-Objects (1998) and West (1999). A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure followed in 2001. For 2003's The Civil War, the duo took inspiration from medieval music and 19th century American folk, while the following year's Rat Relocation Program further reconfigured samples that were used on A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure. Matmos also worked with Björk, both in the studio and on tour, on her albums Vespertine and Medúlla. She returned the favor by appearing on their 2006 album The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast, a collection of "audio portraits" that also included cameos by Antony of Antony and the Johnsons and Kalonica McQuesten. Daniel and Schmidt moved in a purely electronic direction for 2008's The Supreme Balloon, which was crafted entirely out of vintage synthesizers and featured the Sun Ra Arkestra's Marshall Allen and Keith Fullerton Whitman among Matmos' collaborators. That year, they also collaborated with Lesser and Wobbly on a series of improvised recordings made for Hollow Earth Internet Radio that ultimately became their 2010 album Simultaneous Quodlibet, then worked with So Percussion on that year's Treasure State. The duo contributed remixes to Jefferson Friedman's Quartets as performed by the Chiara Quartet in 2011. The following year, it was announced that Matmos had moved to the Thrill Jockey label, which released The Ganzfeld EP -- a set of songs inspired by telepathy -- that October. The full-length The Marriage of True Minds arrived in early 2013.


For fictional place, see Barbarella (comic book).

Matmos is an experimental electronic music duo originally from San Francisco but now residing in Baltimore. M. C. (Martin) Schmidt and Drew Daniel are the core members, but they frequently include other artists on their records and in their performances, including notably J Lesser. Apart from releasing seven full-length studio albums and numerous collaborative works, Matmos is also well known for their collaboration with Icelandic singer and musician Björk, both on studio recordings and live tours. After being signed to Matador Records for nine years, in 2012 Matmos signed a new contract with Thrill Jockey. The name Matmos refers to the seething lake of evil slime beneath the city Sogo in the 1968 film Barbarella. The name might also originate from Swedish, literally meaning "mashed food".

^ announcement on the official website (July 20, 2012)^ Barbarella, film, Dir. Roger Vadim, 1968.

Notable work[edit]

In 1998, Matmos remixed the Björk single Alarm Call. Subsequently, Matmos worked with Björk on her albums Vespertine (2001) and Medúlla (2004), as well as her Vespertine and Greatest Hits tours. In November 2004, Matmos spent 97 hours in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as artists in residence, performing music with friends, musical guests and onlookers. The live album Work, Work, Work, essentially a "best of" collection of the session, was released as a free download from their website.

Matmos gained notoriety for their use of samples including "freshly cut hair" and "the amplified neural activity of crayfish" on their first album and "recorded the snips, clicks, snaps, and squelches of various surgical procedures, then nipped and tucked them into seven remarkably accessible, melodic pieces of experimental techno" for their album A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure.

^ Cooper, Sean (2008). "Matmos", AllMusicGuide.com^ Phares, Heather (2008). "A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure", AllMusicGuide.com.

Personal life[edit]

M. C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel are also a couple, as stated in an interview in BUTT Magazine.

Schmidt formerly worked as a teacher in the New Genres Department at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Daniel successfully defended his dissertation on the literary cult of melancholy, directed by Janet Adelman at the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of English at Johns Hopkins University. This brought the band to relocate their home base to Baltimore in August 2007. Daniel also has a personal dance music project, The Soft Pink Truth. He is a contributing writer to the online music magazine Pitchfork Media, and wrote an essay about the Throbbing Gristle album 20 Jazz Funk Greats for the Continuum Books series 33 1/3. Both Schmidt and Daniel appeared in the Sagan music film Unseen Forces by Ryan Junell.

more »

eMusic Features


Six Degrees of Matmos's The Marriage of True Minds

By Philip Sherburne, Contributor

It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirations informed by, and often stolen from, their peers and forbearers. It all sounds awfully formal, but it's not. It's the very nature of music — of art, even. The Six Degrees features examine the relationships between classic records and five… more »


From a Whisper to a Scream

By Douglas Wolk, Contributor

Börk's got a lot going for her: eccentric songwriting, visual presence, a smartly chosen bunch of collaborators, high-flying conceptual grandeur. More than anything, though, she's got a voice like nothing else on the planet. It's bizarre and lovely, a sound that seems at home both on radio hits and in avant-garde art spaces. It communicates at least as much as her songs themselves, and in fact presenting lyrics is pretty far from the point: unless… more »

Video from YouTube

  • thumbnail from Electric Independence: Matmos (Feb 15, 2011) Electric Independence: Matmos (Feb 15, 2011)
  • thumbnail from Matmos - Luminous Rings (Official Music Video) Matmos - Luminous Rings (Official Music Video)
  • thumbnail from Matmos - Last Delicious Cigarette Matmos - Last Delicious Cigarette
  • thumbnail from Matmos - 07 - In Search of a Lost Faculty Matmos - 07 - In Search of a Lost Faculty


  • 07.10.10 New album just got over a 6 on pitchfork! Now where's the goddamn check everyones talking about?
  • 06.28.10 Tours over, come home 2 a red moon, time to pawn some gear to pay off gas, items listed soon
  • 06.23.10 San Fran show promoter is freakin out at the guest list, 2 many young boys in this town not enough plus 1's
  • 06.21.10 Piss jug we keep in the van for long drives broke all over the floor. Fun day 2 day. Anyone got a van we can rent?
  • 06.20.10 Border guards found our teen porn stash. Barely got into bc, had to pawn one of drews laptop+more for bail.show should be interesting 2nitte
  • 06.18.10 Screw the mountain boys set, game 7 gots more new age appeal.got big bucks ridin on this one, but drews got gamble in his blood
  • 06.14.10 Drew came up with some very interesting concepts today! What did I do? Jerked off with a top hat on and called monopoly!
  • 06.11.10 Thinking of ways to describe our new colab album with Stomp, tweeters got any ideas?
  • 06.10.10 Just got out of the NPR studio, Ira Glass broke a Jeff Tweedy promo cd in his teeth, barely made it to the street alive.
  • 06.10.10 First show was a jab, NPR for some jams then some upper new York state shopping, you know outlets and shit maybe sbarro is cheaper up there