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A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure is a record by the IDM superstars Matmos, also known as the guys who made some of the music for Björk's "Vespertine". The interesting thing about this album, however, is that the main bulk of the sounds on it are samples from recorded medical operations. Sometimes other more conventional instruments are thrown into the mix, but basically the processed surgery sounds stand on their own.


The idea to use sounds recorded during surgery came from the bands want to use medical technology and the body as a major theme. This idea could have come from the fact that both the parental figures to Matmos are doctors and surgeons, but the band has also said that they see house music as revolving around "the beautiful people". So they found it ironic to feed them back their own insecurities and imperfections with the sounds of their own body modifications.

Gathering Sounds

Matmos went about getting the sounds for the album in numerous ways. In some cases they started with direct contact with the patient; asking them politely if they could tag along to record their surgery.

In one case a friend of theirs was getting corrective surgery done on her eyes. She asked Matmos if they’d like to come along and of course they were happy as could be. The doctor in charge of the operation, however, made them put the microphone on a box in the corner of the room and then leave the O.R.. What turned out from this recording was nothing but static and hissing because the box that the microphone was set on was horribly magnetized. However, things worked out in the end when the first surgery was not successful and a second operation was needed. This time around the doctor let the band place the microphone on their friends lap and everything worked out fine.

In many other cases the patient is completely unaware that they are being recorded. Matmos worked out deals with unidentified surgeons in order to set up their recording equipment before hand. Although they have never said who the surgeons were, for apparent legal reasons, it is almost perfectly obvious that it was their parents who helped them out.

It is important to note that none of these surgeries were life or death operations. They were all cases where a person had chosen to go under the knife voluntarily.

Track list with descriptions

Although the majority of the album is surgery sounds there are other musical instruments played on the album to give it a fuller and more musical feel. These instruments are listed under the "Other" section while the surgery sounds are obviously listed under the section titled "Surgery". Understand that sampling, sequencing and digital editing are all employed throughout the recording as well.

1. Lipostudio (...and so on)
Surgery: Liposuction surgery.
Other: Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums and clarinet.

2. L.A.S.I.K.
Surgery: Refractive eye surgery.
Other: N/A

3. Spondee
Surgery: N/A
Other: Beeps and tones generated during the response curve testing of hearing aids. Electric guitar, SH 101, Juno, and ukulele.

4. Ur Tchun Tan Tse Qi
Surgery: Sounds from measuring the galvanic response of skin to a constant flow of electricity. Changes in pitch are produced as the detector pin moves closer to acupuncture points.
Other: N/A

5. For Felix (and all the rats)
Surgery: N/A
Other: Plucked and bowed rat cage.

6. Memento Mori
Surgery: Human skull, goat spine and connective tissue, and artificial teeth.
Other: N/A

7. California Rhinoplasty
Surgery: Rhinoplasty, endoscopic forehead lift, and chin implant.
Other: Nose flute.

I know this probably sounds very disgusting but it really isn’t. The songs aren’t just gurgling sounds or skin cuts: they are very well composed pieces of music that can stand alone without the concept. The music can stand alone but the concept gives this album a lot of fun and interesting aspects. Check this album out if you want something new and fresh to listen to.



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