Music » CD Reviews


The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast (Matador)


Raging rats in rattling cages? Surgical sound pollution? Bring it on, says San Francisco's Matmos -- it's all grist for the mill of appropriated aural by-products. The electronic duo's most collaborative, conceptual, and spirited full-length to date, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast consists of 10 salutes to unknown or infamous underground figures.

The most confrontational of these is "Tract for Valerie Solanas," in which women read excerpts from the S.C.U.M. Manifesto of the radical feminist and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol: "It remains to civil-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation, and destroy the male sex." Behind them is the unsettling sound of an ensemble of vacuum cleaners, bovine reproductive organs played like kazoos, rape alarms whining like vintage Dr. Dre productions, and chilling metal-on-metal percussion made with knives, scissors, and machetes.

"Rag for William S. Burroughs" pairs an old-fashioned piano shuffle with the outmoded creak and clatter of typewriters, film projectors, marbles, and, amusingly, Burroughs adding machines, invented by the grandfather of the late Beat writer. On "Germs Burn for Darby Crash," the sizzle of burnt skin and the resulting outcry, the hum of electric hair clippers, and an ARP 2600 are alchemized into droning glitch.

Teeth functions equally well as entertainment and cultural commentary, fine cuisine for mind and body alike.

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