M.I.A.’s Matangi is perhaps the most abrasive, truly great album I’ve ever heard. M.I.A.’s talents work together here to create a purposely fractured, aggressively offensive (purely meaning “on the offense”) album. It’s hard to really talk about the album, but I’ll give it a shot. The songs are built around really harsh sounds; the percussion rattles and clangs, the vocals are sharp and violent. Dissonance reigns supreme at various points throughout the album. Each track is a constantly shifting tapestry; tracks will suddenly introduce a completely new hook with new instrumentation and styling in the last thirty seconds of a track. Fractured is the way to say it, I think. It’s sharp, filled with jagged edges, and broken, at times seemingly assembled out of clips of longer songs stuck together at random. And, yet, in its existence as an assaultive sound collage, it achieves a kind of perfect chaos, a beautiful sense of intensity and viscerality. If you’re looking for cohesion, beauty or even danceable music, go elsewhere. If you’re looking for a strange, complicated work of art by a strange, complicated artist, this is your jam. But be prepared for repeated listens. It took a while for me to get into the groove, but once I did, it became a great album. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – dark, dissonant album is one long, brilliant sound collage; not easy listening by a stretch, but a challenging, wonderful work of art. 4 stars.