As Matmos, the team of Martin C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel gleefully shapes some of the most accessible and thought-provoking avant-garde sounds, deftly balancing the realms of academia, the indie underground and the discotheque.
Schmidt has served on the art faculty of the San Francisco Art Institute for the past decade. Daniel, a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, looks forward to becoming "Dr. Drew" after the current Matmos tour -- when he'll finish his dissertation on melancholia in English art of the 1590s. He's also enthused about the fact that experimental/noise music is finally reaching a somewhat larger audience.
Though its found its core fans in the late-'90s IDM scene, Daniel thinks that at the millennial turn Matmos has outgrown the "glitch" electronica trend. "We're more interested in creating sounds on purpose rather than merely exploiting accidents," he says. "If a guy with a shopping cart walks by our house, and we put him on the recordings, I don't think that makes us glitch artists."
The duo was originally involved in the late-'80s industrial-noise outfit IAO Core and started their own label, Vague Terrain. Matmos' output on Matador Records consists of meticulous concept albums, such as A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure (constructed entirely out of samples from plastic surgery and medical procedures) and The Civil War, inspired by 19th-century Americana.
The latest, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast, is a collection of aural vignettes dedicated to gay/transgressive cultural heroes, from producer Joe Meek to philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein to porn publisher Boyd McDonald. Some of these personalities share deconstructive methods with Matmos' musique concréte composition techniques. For example, William S. Burroughs explored "cut-ups" of sound and text, while Valerie Solanas (who shot Andy Warhol) wrote a manifesto for her Society for Cutting Up Men (S.C.U.M.).
Matmos has made a splash in the art world, and Daniel's excited to play The Warhol. Performing in museums is "a lifeline to a band like us," he explains. "I might seem a little pious, but a 'culture bunker' can attract an audience that's more receptive, [like] when we toured with Bjork and we were playing opera houses. Videos are an important part of our show, and I've been in rock bars with low ceilings where you tape a bed sheet to a brick wall, and it falls down for the ninth time.
"People have compared us to a cooking program or a science-fair display," he adds. "But we like to be able to give listeners the widest range of difference in volume, from peaks of hellish noise to total quiet ... without being forced to compete with a lot of beer bottles colliding."
Matmos with So Percussion. 8 p.m. Sat., Oct. 7. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $15. 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org