Drew Daniel/Soft Pink Truth
20 Jazz Funk Greats isn’t the LP most Throbbing Gristle fans would want to write about, Matmos’s Drew Daniel said, midway through his Saturday night Housing Works reading from his recently published 33 1/3 book on the LP. Jazz Funk Greats is famous for being both completely stylistically incoherent and, simultaneously, a traitorous move toward pop; this move, he joked, was the only rebellion really afforded to noise artists—not unlike the Soft Pink Truth, Daniel’s own move toward a more shameful form (beats, samples, covers), and scheduled, after the reading, as the evening’s entertainment.
The audience of 80 or so people cleared the tables and chairs for the dance party, but it’s hard to get people to dance in a bookstore (“that’s cool, you can browse,” Daniel conceded). Instead, the focus stayed on him, a cape quilted with bird feathers drapped on his shoulders, flaccid golden pillow phallus hanging like a merkin from his Henry Rollins shorts. He pointed at the front row and directed lyrics towards innocent bystanders. It was startling to catch him catching you staring at him, like getting caught daydreaming in class.
Among other things, he did some of Soft Pink Truth’s best covers: Otto Von Shirach’s “Whip Me Down,” “Nervous Gender’s” “Confession.” “Put your Schegel on my Hegel,” he demanded. Google says that line is possibly his own; if not, he couldn’t have owned it more. “I can’t believe one of my grad students is here,” he said, elephantiasis-infected cock swaying. Hard to believe more of them wouldn’t be—Daniels’ work with Matmos and Soft Pink Truth bears the lipstick traces of academia, but it’s always been accessible.
Earlier Daniel, in full self-parody mode, took stage in the same Burzum shirt he’d sported in the promo photo advertising the event. He read some of his interviews with Throbbing Gristle, but apologized for not doing the voices. He patiently asked if there were questions, and seemed bummed when only a few people raised their hands. One of his asides delved into Psychic TV and Genesis P-Orridge’s explorations of sexual magick and psychic phenomena. Not coincidentally, Daniel writes in this month’s Fence Magazine about Matmos’s own recent psychic experiments, in which Daniel tries to transmit a single thought to a series of “receivers.” After the reading, we thought we’d try our hand at receiving; it turned out to be easier to just ask.—Jessica Suarez
So far all of your Matmos projects have been very physical. What made you decide to try something that relies on an immaterial relationship between two things?
I wanted to find a way to strip the process down to a “pure” concept, but in a way that would probably inevitably leak out into the world of things on the receiver end. The difference this time is that we are putting at risk being the people who choose which objects and instruments to play. That’s up to the receivers.
Are there any connections between Matmos’s telepathic experiments and what you talked about in your reading, especially Psychic TV’s experiments?
Yes, I think that hearing Gen talk about the way that a seance created the lyrics for “Six Six Sixties” was a big inspiration, actually. It confirmed the idea that non-rational processes can produce fabulous results, with a little behind-the-scenes editing.
You also talked about noise bands having to go ‘pop’ to really rebel. I’m wondering if Soft Pink Truth is part of your rebellion, in that Matmos builds so much from an atomic level up, but you use lots of covers and samples in Soft Pink Truth.
It’s a way for me to work through some gay shame about dance music, and to be in a situation where I have to try to live up to something mysterious that is hard to satisfy: the dance floor.