Warped photo of MADMADMAD showing each member multiple times

Track By Track: MADMADMAD guide us through their new album ‘Behavioural Sink Delirium’

London electronic post-punk trio MADMADMAD release their third studio album Behavioural Sink Delirium today via Bad Vibrations, and it’s every bit the voyage to the edge of sanity that you might reasonably expect from both the band and LP’s names. Packed beyond bursting point with more ideas, more genres, more energy than my poor neurons could handle, it required me to take a short lie-down in a darkened room before plunging myself headfirst back into its psychedelic primordial soup.

To attempt to describe what on earth is going on here would be a folly that could drive me to my wits’ end, so thankfully the band and producer Eddie Stevens are here to spare my marbles with a comprehensive track by track guide to the surreality contained within these nine songs.

The Band’s Angle 

We’d love to share a few words about our new album Behavioural Sink Delirium.   During the process, we locked ourselves in during 10 days, recorded hours of fully improvised music, all played live in one room, and under the extraordinary direction of producer Eddie Stevens. The resulting tracks were only edited to create arrangements. We chose to experience various states of delirium as to release this euphoric and unhinged record.   The album takes its name from a 1968 experiment called Universe 25, conducted by American ethologist John B. Calhoun. The experiment looked at the behavioural effects of population growth in a ‘rodent utopia’. A perfect space was built for a colony of 3,000 mice to thrive in, with constant food and water supplies, cosy apartments and no outside threats or predators. Starting with 4 females and 4 males, the population grew rapidly before capping at a number of 2,200. At this point, a living nightmare ensued (the mice formed violent cliques and social hierarchies, cannibalism started becoming common practice) and the population started plummeting to eventual extinction. Calhoun coined this tipping point the “behavioural sink” effect, and it’s this state of societal breakdown that we tap into on this record.   It was a deep musical experience, and we’re genuinely overwhelmed by the result. We let go of a lot of stuff, and it took us to places we had never been. We hope you feel the same way when you listen to it.    

The Producer’s Angle  

The concept to this album was simple. The band come in with no preconceptions whatsoever, no melodies, no plan, no expectation except an open mind to explore. Then we set up the gear with the idea of mixing while recording. Possible because these guys are not “just” brilliant musicians and tunesmiths, but engineers and producers too. Everything goes through the posh mixing stuff NOW not later. AND everything goes to everything else! Sending sources off to effects and stuff NOW by musicians, patching one instrument into another on the fly – musical, creative mixing, part of the performance. It was a completely mental set up where mistakes reap rewards: not quite sure WHY the snare drum is going through the vocoder triggered by the mono synth, modulated by the vocal mic which in turn is channeled through guitar effects pedals and into a sampler for instant key mapping, or – for that matter – how to get out of it, but who gives a monkey’s? Hit the red button!  


01 A Gin, No Tonic, Mannheim  
From my perspective, some of the session’s greatest moments were straight up experimenting with the set up. Stuff chanced upon. I dug into our offcuts to find this short opening, which the band recorded towards the end of the ten days. It acts as a sonic wormhole, a twisted gate to their perpendicular universe. There’s an ethereal, and almost aquatic, “Forbidden Planet” quality to it. No beat, with lush, otherworldly sounds prickling in the forefront… listen closely and you’ll hear cascading notes on a keyboard, someone breathing in a flute, reminding you that YES, humans are involved, but – to be fair – not quite the standard versions.  

02 Krautjerk  
The guys were on fire here. This song has moments of mythic grandeur… the hardest thing was to trim it down, because it was initially going on for more than 10 minutes. It was such a frantic moment, they were all bouncing off Maff’s beat like a bunch of baboons, thrusted by a relentless combination of Moog DFAM, Moog Mother-32, Kev’s electric bass, and exhilarating sprinkles of Yamaha PSR-73 responding to the vocals. It was disgusting to get rid of anything, but we had to be ruthless. One day, they should release the whole thing – every hour of the session – in a massive box set of wax cylinders – because it’s all brilliant, SO THERE.

03 You See, You Do It Like This  
This track has something which I think is a bit special… something that you don’t often hear because, you know, why would you? It sort of has to happen without intention. It starts with a single Moog arpeggio, which ends up pulling the whole track together. Maff’s drums are triggering the hand-modulated Korg MS-20, adding notes to his every beat and fill, and then there’s the relentless percussion, just piling up throughout the track… something about the raucous liveness of it is infectious for me – MADMADMAD at their best… I had long and fruity email discussions with the band during the mix (which actually was more of an edit than a mix… kinda everything was mixed as it was being played!). Here’s an extract from me to them, regarding percussion level in this track, which they’ve asked me to copy here as a sort of statement of intent for the whole album:  

‘You heathens. Safe mixing everything “right”, that’s not the way to go in my books. Where’s be brave – make things “too loud” sometimes… don’t be afraid. When it’s released, it won’t seem “too loud” it will be amazing because we have the guts to make it “too loud” without giving a shit, but we DO give a shit, and that’s why it’s TOO LOUD because we’re revolutionaries, shield bearers, the vanguard, the fuck-your-automatic-mixing-for-the-oh-so-safe-digital-age ram up the faders and indulge and cast away any idea of “right” or wrong” f**k sake come on you are NOT scaredy cats, you’re MADMADMAD, don’t play it safe, put your balls in the cheese grater and saw, namby pamby numbty knickers and frills. I’ll turn down your percussion but you’ll regret it, unless you want me maybe to get Matt Goss to do a couple of verses of oooo love in my shinpads I only wear cashmere socks and drink filtered water through volcanic plate herpes. Whatever yes ok shame.’  

I’ll stand by that, though for obvious reasons, it was never intended for public consumption! The point, though, is that if you’re listening to this track, and by the end of it aren’t nodding your head, tapping your foot, at the very VERY least, then in my opinion you can’t be human, or just not actually really listening, just hearing.  

04 Totes Amazeballs  
We recorded this song on the same day we recorded “Krautjerk”. It’s on that same level of energy, with upbeat drums, spikey Moog DFAM, Kev’s disto-bending bass, all the more contrasting with the delicate vocals sampled on the Casio SK-1. It’s a relentless, post-digital rallying cry against the xenobots’ takeover. Reviewers, desperate for their working day to end, might say something like “it runs the whole gamut of human emotions…” or, a little less likely, “something for all the family”. Isn’t it just, though?   

05 It’s a Cat  
What a dirty little runty bastard this one is! The Yamaha PSR-73 on MARIMBA preset, runs through the track, more or less. In fact, both sounds were performed on the wondermachine PSR-73, if you can believe it. Chopped vocals sampled on our trusty Casio SK-1… Loads of energy, just a smash and grab two-minute spectacle. Those with a particularly well-tuned ear may recognise the vocals of the peerless Liz Truss poking through here and there. With thanks, Liz, what a G.    


06 Deckchairs  
Day 9. No hi-hat, no snarey thingie, that’s the dogma here. We welcomed slower tempos at this stage of the sessions – climbing the walls as we were – sky-opening melodies, lull before the storm. Our weapon of choice, the Casio SK-1, is back at it.  

07 Flute and the Hobo  
It’s kind of the percussion that stops this track being scandi-chic, and more sticky carpet. We were after sticky carpet. No bassline on this one, the bass drum is triggering notes on the Moog, drums are going through the vocoder…. It sounds like a long pair of horses’ legs on a human, mug of tea in hand, fag on the go, aimlessly traipsing… almost tripping over every step. I reckon the band could have kept riding this beat until dawn. I would have been up for it – I can’t get enough.  

08 Baggy Bag Bottoms  
I don’t really know what this is, but I know it’s fakkin’ rad. Maybe a bit of a CAN homage? The guys did a lot of farting around with the beat repeat on the drums, all in real-time of course. Loads of unexpected stutters and against the rules phasing in the process. The whole thing is that there ISN’T any “lead” sound or anything at all… and should be left like that. Just like a good ol’ pair of baggy bag bottoms… though I know not what they are, but, yes, I DO know they’re fakkin RAD.  

09 In the Garden of Mezcal  
As you MUST have noticed by now, the B-side of this album is generally a little calmer than its counterpart. We wanted to end on a twisted ballad, under 80bpm, an end-of-prom smoocher. Not quite “Lady in Red” you may argue, but perhaps slightly unnerving, odd, beautiful, a little inconclusive and disjointed: just out of reach…  I hope it’ll bring a chill down people’s spine when they talk about it, it does mine. A sort of bump in time, a brief visit from a parallel universe… shit that makes people cry, yes? But f****d up, blates. Mouths open, speechless, rest but don’t rest, you know? Now sleep.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    

And there you have it. My take on this amazing session and album with MMM. A radical (for me), massively complex but hugely rewarding way of making music. You have to have the head for it, the skillies, but most of all you have to have the soul. These gentlemen have the soul, the energy, the vibe – they have something special. SMASH UP THE PLACE, Y’ALL, THE MADS ARE A CRUISIN’ FOR A BRUISIN’!    

Big up your bad selves,

Eddie Stevens.

Behavioural Sink Delirium is out now via Bad Vibrations. Get your copy on Bandcamp

Find out more on MADMADMAD’s official website

Catch them on tour at the following locations:

July 21st | Cheshire, UK – Blue Dot Festival
July 30th | London, UK – WOMAD Festival
Aug 18th | Coura, PT – Parades de Coura Festival
Aug 20th | Brecon Beacons, UK – Green Man Festival
Aug 25th | Solway, UK – Solfest
Sept 1st | Antwerp, BE – Booty Rave Festival
Sept 2nd | Manchester, UK – Manchester Psych Fest
Sept 3rd | Wiltshire, UK – End of the Road Festival
Sept 3rd | Deal, UK – Smugglers Festival
Sept 22nd | Poitiers, FR – Confort Moderne
Sept 23rd | La Rochelle, FR – La Sirene
Oct 20th-21st | Rotterdam, NL – Left of the Dial
Nov 4th | Reykjavik, IS – Iceland Airwaves

Introduction by Paul Maps

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