For everyone who’s grown up doing their own laundry, especially those of us with a musical ear, the rhythmic hum of a washing machine has always been an entrancing experience.
So if ever there was a pair of artists who could translate the aquatic mechanics of a washing machine into brilliant art pop, it’s MC Schmidt and Drew Daniel of Matmos. Over the last 15 years, the Baltimore-based duo has managed to compose intelligent electronic music from source samples culled from surgical procedures, 16th-century war music and even parapsychological experiments. And that’s not to mention the context of their stage show, which once saw them make music from a cow’s uterus as well as John Cage’s own personal collection of conch shells.
With Ultimate Care II, the creative couple sonically dissects the Whirlpool model the album is named after, which exists in the basement of the home they share with the help of an elite force of local acts who sometimes drop in to do their wash, including Dan Deacon, Jason Willett of Half Japanese and members of the severely underrated avant-rock outfit Horse Lords. Together, this ragtag ensemble proceeds to rattle, flip, filter and process the watery, domestic rhythms and drones to fine-tune a continuous 38-minute suite that lasts the exact length of a small load cycle. And, just as with any classic Matmos record, the music captures the listener’s inner ear in such a way you forget where the sounds are coming from in the first place
At once atmospheric, industrial and experimental, Ultimate Care II is kind of like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music had the old geezer from Freeport, N.Y. crafted it out of love instead of vitriol.