Houston Music

Matmos Playing Houston for the First Time

Matmos, the Matador Records-signed electronic music duo that has done work for Björk, has never performed in Houston. The person responsible for making the group's debut show in town happen? An expat living in Germany.

A few years ago, dancer Ayman Harper -- a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts who relocated to Berlin, Germany to pursue a full-time freelancing career in dance and performance theater -- cycled by Berlin's Babylon Theater and noticed the band's name on the marquee. A fan of the Baltimore-based group for years, Harper tried to catch the end of the performance but was too late.

A bummed Harper headed to the back of the venue and ran into M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel of the band. Harper told them about his dancing and choreography chops, which included The Forsythe Company in Frankfurt, and added that he often improvised to the group's numbers.

Matmos then invited Harper to join them on the bus to the next tour stop. Harper had to decline, but said he'd be in touch, though he never did follow through.

Two years later, the two connected while Harper was performing with Baryshnikov in New York City. Matmos, remembering the encounter with Harper in Berlin, invited him to improvise during their gig at The Stone, John Zorn's club in the East Village. It ended up going so well that they decided to collaborate some more.

The result is (theLID, a piece that makes its U.S. premiere this weekend at DiverseWorks.

The two-part performance will feature Harper and Jermaine Spivey, a Julliard School product who currently dances for Kidd Pivot Frankfurt Rhine-Main, depending on Matmos's sound to make movement, and then deconstructing that need to create interdependency between dancer and musician.

According to Harper, the first half of the piece will feature him and Spivey as "subjects and objects" in a completely improvised section. The latter half will feature an adaptation and transformation of a composition called "Supreme Balloon."

"The second half will offer more imagery and scenarios that will accompany the score that Matmos will play," says Harper. "(theLID is an ever morphing structure that is by nature never the same and requires a lot of 'listening,'" he says.

Harper adds that in the States, (theLID, which has only been seen by German audiences, will most likely perform in Houston and Houston only.

(theLID is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 13 and Saturday, January 14, at DiverseWorks Art Space, 1117 East Freeway. For ticket information, check out the DiverseWorks website.

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen