If one electronic group has separated themselves from everyone else because of their originality and refusal to work with typical composition and instruments, it is Matmos. The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast is a concept album on many people that M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, the duo of Matmos, look up to in some way. Each song is dedicated to a different person of influence, using items or things from their lives or noted works as instruments in the song. Each song also has its own style very different from the song before it. The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast is a complex musical deriving from a cacophony of sources.
The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast is not artistic in the romantic sense of the word, with some starving artist drawing from his life experiences and pulling the universal truths from them, but is artistic in its aleatoric yet analytic approach to creation. For The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast, Matmos researched the lives of each of the people whom they dedicated their songs to, and picked a moment or work or thing from their life and personified it in the language of music, though not done in the most conventional way. On “Roses and Teeth For Ludwig Wittgenstein” the spoken word sound clips come from Wittgenstein’s work Philosophical Investigations. On “Rag for William S. Burroughs,” the loud gunshot heard in two minutes into the song is the shot that Burroughs shot at his wife Joan Vollmer in a drunken game of “William Tell” that ended in Joan’s death. After this, Burroughs traveled to South America and Morocco, all the while typing away on a typewriter, as heard in the song. “Semen song for James Bidgood” used the sound of semen in praise of the controversial photographer. “Lasers and Snails for Patricia Highwater” used the sound Patricia’s favorite animal crawling across a Theremin sensor combined with the Noir crime music that would underscore many of her books.
While these songs may seem ambitious, they achieve what they set out to do. Each one of the songs makes an electronic soundscape for its subject, but each can be enjoyed by anyone, even if the listener is unfamiliar with said subjects. The pure discord in “Banquet for King Ludwig II of Bavaria” revolves around a center harmony, where the listener can grow to love uncertainty and pandemonium. This directly represents the feeling at the time of Ludwig II’s rule. His fairy-tale imagination created a relative sense of chaos as he ruled apparently away from the reality of his Kingdom. He was declared insane, and as such, was essentially exiled, but many of the citizens of Bavaria came to his aid.
Matmos’ The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast is an album that has as much depth as each of the lives of the people it involves. Each of the songs can be enjoyed on a purely musical level, but also on an analytical level. The album also promotes remote revolutionaries in history, expanding the listener’s knowledge and is, in an odd sense, educational. Matmos’ extremity and unconventional, or to take liberties with the English language, disconventional, has made a monument for them and for the subjects of their songs.