Few musicians are capable of the diversity that's required to score gay porn flicks ("Fistful Thinking," "The Hole Punch" and a few others), collaborate with Bjšrk, and craft albums using samples of cosmetic surgery or crawdads' brain electricity. Even with such a storied past, it's somehow surprising to find San Francisco glitch duo Matmos exploring ancient Anglo-Americana on "The Civil War." While much of their previous work has succeeded thanks to a meditative hum of over-the-top conceptualism, "The Civil War" screams, "No, for real, there's a theme here." The screeching peal of digital bagpipes kicks things off, and from there, it just gets stranger. Only on the nine minutes of "Y.T.T.E." does the album evoke anything marginally Matmos-ian in nature, while the remainder is like an overpixilated John Fahey forced to contend with a Philip K. Dick nightmare. Excuse me, but I'll take the crayfish brains, please.
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