Following a string of side projects, including the twisted Soft Pink Truth album, San Francisco-based electronic duo Matmos (Drew Daniel & MC Schmidt) returns with something new.

Following a string of side projects, including the twisted Soft Pink Truth album, San Francisco-based electronic duo Matmos (Drew Daniel & MC Schmidt) returns with something new. An unexpected stylistic detour from 2001's medical-technology exploration, "A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure," "The Civil War" is a peculiar concept album. It finds the duo dissecting and rearranging musical genres from various periods to create a soundtrack that evokes the spirit of visceral patriotic battle hymns from eras long lost. Using modular synthesizers, sound sample sources, electronic manipulations and live instrumentation (guitars, dobro, horns and banjo), Matmos produces a sonic minefield. Gaelic jigs and contemplative pastoral folk meld with frontier-era country honky-tonk and military-hued drum marches. While the collection retains the duo's trademark electronic sonic alchemy, the addition of "conventional" musical instrumentation/arrangements and unnerving Americana overtones will undoubtedly confound fans.—CR