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Matmos's Ganzfeld EP: electronica meets ESP

The Ganzfeld effect is a kind of sensory deprivation caused not by cutting off stimulation like in an isolation tank by rather delivering unstructured stimulation like a total wash of unchanging color or white noise. (The word "ganzfeld" comes from the German for "complete field.") Starting in the 1930s, psychologists have studied how the Ganzfeld effect can trigger hallucination. It's also been used to interesting effect in art, like in James Turrell's light installations. For decade, parapsychologists have also tapped into the Ganzfeld effect to test for ESP. Riffing on that high weirdness (and its connection to art), the avant-electronica duo Matmos have released The Ganzfeld EP. From the album page:

NewImage "Instead of sending and receiving simple graphic patterns, test subjects were put into a state of sensory deprivation by covering their eyes and listening to white noise on headphones, and then Matmos member Drew Daniel attempted to transmit “the concept of the new Matmos record” directly into their minds. During videotaped psychic experiments conducted at home in Baltimore and at Oxford University, test subjects were asked to describe out loud anything they saw or heard within their minds as Drew attempted transmission. The resulting transcripts became a kind of score that was then used by Matmos to generate music. If a subject hummed something, that became a melody; passing visual images suggested arrangement ideas, instruments, or raw materials for a collage; if a subject described an action, then the band members had to act out that out and make music out of the noises generated in the process of the re-enactment."
Whether it was technology, telepathy, talent, or a combination of the three that brought these sounds to life, the result is as compelling as the concept. The Ganzfeld EP is available in various editions, including one that ships with Incase headphones and custom blinder goggles to continue the experiment on your own.

Matmos: The Ganzfeld EP (Amazon)

Matmos: The Ganzfeld EP (Thrill Jockey)

Discuss

8 Responses to “Matmos's Ganzfeld EP: electronica meets ESP”

  1. The awesome videos, crazy lighting effects, and music in general certainly put my into an alternative state of mind when I got to see them perform with Wobbly. One of the best live shows I’ve experienced. The new album sounds incredible.

  2. Teirhan says:

    I’m a big fan of a chance to cut is a chance to cure, so clearly I need to listen to this entire album while staring at a piece of white paper big enough to obscure my entire visual field.  

    • s2redux says:

      Perhaps easier: slit a white ping pong ball in half; lay back; put the cut pieces over your eyes; gaze. (hat tip to Fritz Perls, IIRC)

  3. carloscarlson says:

    boo, ditch the pseudo-science gimmick and write some music

  4. I can definitely find appreciation in the Matmos catalog, though i’d prefer a new Soft Pink Truth record instead. I really wish they’d resurrect that concept! :)

  5. L_Mariachi says:

    Same principle as Bryon Gysin’s Dreamachine?

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