By Tom Beedham
The conceit Matrox offers at once in lieu of a “proper” band biography and in favour of a successful PR mythos is entertaining to digest: it is (or perhaps was) composed of robots sent from another planet (Planet Matrox) to colonize the people of Earth. Whether or not they intend to stay the course on that mission is less apparent; they seem to like the local colour, taking to Toronto’s local independent music scene to give scheduled concert performances.
Of course, the reality of the situation is that this is a synth-oriented trio composed of entirely human members, counting Alt Altman (Digits) among them. And when the group played Adelaide Hall last night for WL14, the suspension of disbelief Matrox requests was less simply maintained.
Although Matrox wandered onto the stage fully clad in its homemade robot gear and the mystique that comes with it, the opening of its performance was marred by a technical difficulty that ultimately forced the band to remove its helmets out of desperation to fix the glitch, fiddling with things like patch cords in a way that was all too human.
While the setback was temporary—resulting in a five-minute set delay at most—and the performance that followed was as stimulating as some of the showcases the group has already gigged at (All Toronto’s Parties, Long Winter, etc.), it also forced the audience to absorb another, entirely different, truth: this is a Toronto band mimicking a colonization outfit that is seeking to adopt the local culture as its own, absorbing attention at concerts first and foremost for its token “alien” idiosyncrasies. Everything from Matrox’s instruments—an arsenal of Korg and Behringer synths, a saxophone, and sound samples of revving motorcar engines—to its tendency to position itself onstage in a line à la Kraftwerk, is a farcical “appropriation.”
So, yes: Matrox’s set showed people that this group is more than just robot rock.
Originally published by Aesthetic Magazine.