From slugs to semen, there's little Matmos doesn't sample

Although its members have made musical recordings of petting a cat and the rapid-fire flipping of Bible pages, the best story of Matmos' aural inventiveness is, well, a bit blue. For the appropriately titled "Semen Song for James Bidgood," Drew Daniel watched James Bidgood's Pink Narcissus while masturbating onto a sheet of paper connected to a contact mic, which then caught the sound of his semen landing with healthy aplomb. But I have to wonder: Would the song's hallowed meaning have changed if he rubbed one out while watching, say, Gilmore Girls? Who's to know? It's just one of the many tales that make this extraordinary San Francisco avant duo so goddamned gifted. Catch Matmos — along with Walter Kitundu — this Wednesday, Oct. 18, at Great American Music Hall at 8 p.m. Admission is $21; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. Brock Keeling


There will be few moments this year as downright meta as when the Decemberists — who have long held the title of indie rock's most precious dandies — perform their new single, "O Valencia!" to the same kind of dysfunctional hipster lovers that populate the song's narrative andcruise down bike lanes of the street named in the chorus. But the evening promises more than meta-hipster delights: The Decemberists regularly offer up lively performances of their peculiar, captivating little melodic ditties. By unveiling songs from their latest release, The Crane Wife, the evening promises to be a charmer. The Decemberists perform on Thursday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 20, at the Warfield at 8 p.m. Admission is $25; call 775-7722 or visit www.livenation.com for more info. Nate Cavalieri


The waltzy, schmaltzy, Balkan folk-gypsy-orch-pop of Beirut's Gulag Orkestar doesn't sound like many other indie rock albums from this past year, and the background story is pretty nonpareil, too. Nineteen-year-old wunderkind Zach Condon wrote and performed the lion's share of the album's material — on accordion, mandolin, horns, and glockenspiel, among other instruments — assisted by Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeremy Barnes and his partner in A Hawk and a Hacksaw, violinist/cellist Heather Trost. Upon signing to Ba Da Bing! Condon moved from Albuquerque (where he quit school at the age of 16) to Brooklyn, where he now fronts a loose-knit live ensemble. His quavering voice suits his lugubrious lyrics, and, amazingly, his faux East European chanson actually shoulders the weight of centuries quite convincingly. — J. Niimi


The black hole: a point in space so dense with concentrated mass that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull. For years scientists and sci-fi kooks alike have speculated about what lies at the center of these cosmic catchalls, but we here at SF Weekly Labs have a theory that begins and ends with the Secret Machines. The N.Y.-via-Texas trio plays with a dark, deliberate melodrama and monumental, mind-altering volume that exert a powerful magnitude irresistible to connoisseurs of heavy-duty rock. The fact that its latest tour is being played in the round, with the crowd orbiting a circular stage set at the axis of the room, is a pretty badass analog to the Secret Machines' astronomical grandeur. This is space rock in its truest sense. The Secret Machines perform on Friday, Oct. 20, at the Grand (1300 Van Ness), at 9 p.m. Admission is $25; call 864-0815 or visit www.anotherplanetent.com for more info. Jonathan Zwickel

 
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