There are two things that made me buy this record, the first were the words ‘ Limited Edition’ and ‘Coloured Vinyl’, the second was that I’d heard quite a few Matmos tracks in the past that I liked, maybe that’s three things, anyway, it’s quite clear that I am easily seduced by the first two and this was no exception. It wasn’t until after I’d left the record store that I released what the picture on the record sleeve was, I had thought it was a sort of abstract mushroom:
Even though it’s quite clear that it is a washing machine with chunks taken out of it. I just can’t have been paying attention. The album, ‘Ultimate Care II’ is named after that very washing machine and is made up entirely of samples of the sounds the washing machine makes.
This is a problem. I bloody hate the sounds a washing machine makes, well, mine at least, when it starts its spin cycle it is so loud that it drowns out all other noise and it’s damn annoying. So I really didn’t have high hopes for this album when I realised exactly what it was I’d bought.
I’ve given the album about three full listens through and there is no doubt that it is technically adept, well constructed and is, despite it being a washing machine, highly musical but as one might expect, it has a lot of percussive elements.
The liner notes on the inner sleeve explain exactly what it is you are listening to:
All sounds on this recording were originally
generated by a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II
washing machine in the basement of our
home in Baltimore.
These sounds were then manipulated with
samplers, software and outboard processing
No synthesizers or drum machines were used.
It is 9 tracks, or excerpts as they are listed, although I believe the CD version is one long track designed to echo the washing machine cycle. The vinyl has a ‘Wash’ side and a ‘Rinse’ side. Have a listen to a track below to judge for yourself.
There are knobs being turned, lids being slammed shut, water gurgling, all manner of bangs and electronically beepy sounds that must have been treated, and it does alternate between highly listenable and not.
As an artifact it is something that I rather like owning and I can appreciate the skill it must have taken to create these tracks from a single sound source, but I can’t see myself playing it too often. I’ve said that about other albums before of course and ended up liking them a lot more that I thought I would, so who knows, maybe it’s a grower.