Do you smell something rotting? Maybe it’s the first dead flowers of spring, but it’s probably the release of Mata Mata, the latest album from Philadelphia-based experimental twee-pop project Telyscopes. According to frontman Jack Hubbell, it serves as an answer to the grandiose production and lush instrumentation of its predecessor, Perfume.
“I wanted to make two day and night, yin and yang, polished and hideously raw albums,” he says. “All of these songs were developed at the same time and mostly recorded in the same sessions as Perfume, but I was careful to separate them into two categories.”
Mata Mata gets its name from a species of Amazonian turtle known for its gnarled shell ridges and skin flaps–a mascot that embodies Hubbell’s unhinged assault on traditional standards of sonic beauty. In his own words, “this album, to Perfume, is Cain murdering Abel.”
Our first glimpse of the crime scene came earlier this year with the video for “Monkey Beating a Bucket,” with its toilet-mounted toy piano and bathtub full of raw fish and egg noodles. The more recent single “I Wanna Cut You Open” is another perfect slice of hideous rawness, where tender piano chords throw the body horror of its gruesome lyrics into sharp relief.
Though Hubbell himself is the principal player, Mata Mata also features many of his frequent collaborators, including Karl Hovmark, Pat Hammole, and Pablo Cabrera on drums, plus Rhodes piano by Chris Caulder. Violinist Jason Loux and trumpeter Jason Tyler also make appearances.
Mata Mata is available on CD with selected tracks from the last two Telyscopes releases, but Hubbell is also offering another physical option for those who can’t get enough of the gory details. A limited edition set of flash drives available on Bandcamp includes the audio tracks, the stems, and other unreleased material.
“CD’s are seen as uncool, but to me, tapes and vinyl are outdated; I wanted to give people something a bit more enticing,” says Hubbell. By including the building blocks of the record, he also hopes to encourage other musicians to sample and remix the record.
“Since 90% of the Telyscopes fan base consists of other musicians, why not invite people to participate?” he says. “I honestly wish more people did this because I would pay Brian Eno top dollar for some multi-tracks.”
Whether you’re one of those co-conspirators in the plot on Perfume’s life or just a horrified onlooker who can’t tear their eyes away, you can find Mata Mata on all digital platforms now.