Watch Matmos manipulate a 1960 recording of a mud dauber wasp


I think with the Baltimore-based duo Matmos we’re pretty used to being bewildered, confused, delighted, provoked and inspired, but this latest work, WOW!

It comes from their forthcoming 14th studio album, Return To Archive, which is basically the tale of the duo of Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt being given the keys to the kingdom. In advance of Folkways Records’ 75th anniversary, Matmos accepted a proposition from the label to create new material to celebrate this significant milestone. With unprecedented access to an extensive archive of hundreds of LPs, they gravitated towards the more “non-musical” field recording type material.

This piece was created from a recording of a mud dauber wasp in flight originally recorded by Albro T. Gaul for his “The Sound of Insects” LP (Folkways Records, 1960). Matmos of course manipulated, sampled and re-built the piece into an entirely new composition. The video was created by M.C. Schmidt out of various found footage of an array of different wasp species, including carnivorous wasps feeding on carrion.

We’ve been big fans of Matmos for quite some time, you can check out our interview with the always entertaining duo from back in 2014 here.

This is what Drew Daniel has to say about it:

“For this project we decided that we would rather focus exclusively upon the nature and science recordings within the label’s catalog and would make music only by sampling those sources without adding any new sounds of our own. We hoped to activate the rich musical potential within the hoots, gurgles, thunks, zaps, howls, drips, bangs, and zings that haunt classic early Folkways LPs from the The Sounds of the Office (1964) to Sounds of Medicine (1955) to The Science of Sound (1958). From cable cars on land to bottlenose dolphins underwater, from the quietest gurgling of gastro intestinal interiors to the wildest squalls of junkyard landscapes and the howling ionosphere above the clouds, an entire sonic universe lay hidden in the back alleys of this back catalog.”

Return To Archive will be released on the 3rd of November via Smithsonian Folkways. You can find it here.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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