Matmos seem to have more or less ditched the concept of having a concept with Supreme Balloon. Where previous outings by electro-collage boffins Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt had themes ranging from plastic surgery and rodent behaviour to the American Civil War, the latest album is a simple collection of retro-futurist electro-pop redolent of 1970s television science shows.
“Polychords”, for example, bounces along amiably like Boards of Canada on a spacehopper, whilst “Mister Mouth” comes across as a Pacman sing song – all squelchy beats and robotic squeaks. “Les Folies Francaises” is a cartoon Casiotone harpsichord melody from the court of the Sun King. It’s all upbeat and fun, without crossing the line over to self-conscious wackiness.
With the other six tunes all clocking in at under four minutes, the 24 minute title track can’t help but dominate the album. With its lilting pace, and variety of analogue synth parts, it sounds like something from Autobahn-era Kraftwerk before everything got digital and clinical. It’s more than just a loving pastiche, though. There is an organic warmth to it, and with little melodies weaving in and out, it easily sustains the attention. It does tend to dominate the album in a way that overshadows the other tunes, making them appear a little slight in comparison.
Supreme Balloon evokes a world of computers the size of small buildings, synthesisers the size of family cars surrounded by miles of wire, and speccy scientists in brown corduroy with gigantic sideburns. It may not be cutting edge, but it’s a fun place to visit for 45 minutes.
1 Rainbow Flag 3:50
2 Polychords 3:31
3 Mister Mouth 3:47
4 Exciter Lamp 3:21
5 Les Folies Francaises 2:24
6 Supreme Balloon 24:08
7 Cloudhopper 2:58