Skulltaste

27.03.10 Words by: Charlie Jones

Minnesotan Electro-geek Mux Mool aka Brian Lindgren has released a number of singles since 2006 on Moodgadget (a couple of which appear here) and an EP but ‘Skulltaste’ is his first album offering. It flips between every genre that can be vaguely termed as electronic: you’ll find Techno, Dubstep, Hip-Hop and Disco with an overtone of some self-reflexive Trip-Hop. More upbeat and poppy than contempories Dam Mantle read their gig diary here but slightly easier to interpret than Gold Panda Interviewed here, Mool seems to straddle the scene and what is most obvious is his inability to commit to or innovate any particular genre, just to nod at each one in turn.

What starts as a promising journey over a magical (yet slightly sinister) landscape of jagged synths and broken beats never really materialises into anyting that memorable. The floating melodies to one side, near-euphoria is let down by the meat (or lack of) in Ballad of Gloria Featherbottom. Where is the bass? Not just in tone but in feeling too. Downright flatness followed by a lethargic fade into the night, ready for the introduction of Skulltaste.

Unfortunately, this also lacks flavour and synth-steps aside does leave you a feeling a little empty. But it is a grower and on few listens it’ll be appreciated – yet somehow the attention to detail gone into the track is lost in the tempo. Much like the more complacent end of Lemon Jelly, or skeletal offering of DJ Shadow, Lindgren trades in exploration for a dull repetitive motif. However, that is not to say there are moments of real skill on this album.

If you like Boards of Canada, False Worship and 1st and 4th will leave you itching for more of the same. Not identical to but definitely influenced by BOC, these tunes exploit their predecessors even in the similarity of name choices – like Sixtyten, and there’s a distinct similarity in Roygbiv. They do, however, differ in tone, nuanced with an overriding Synth-Pop feel, which breaks up the otherwise ethereal explorations. These tracks are really strong and carry more weight anything else Mool has offered up so far. It is hard to criticise anyone who can manage to work the lyrics: “I’m a total mystery…I’m a God” (or at least that’s what it sounds like) into a song using voice distortion without it sounding cheesy. Even more surprising is to make these lyrics a welcome feature. In 1st and 4th snared beats sound at the climax of the track without upsetting the gently crafted balance it has achieved in its progression.

The album only truly ignites with sonic delights Breakfast Enthusiast and Get Better John. Compositions with such dark intention as Breakfast Enthusiast quell the poppy overtones found elsewhere in the album and it is here that Mux Mool really warms up and shows his true colours. Or is it that his true colours are mapped across the album? Unfulfilled promise with occassional flashes of brilliance.

By Get Better John you know that Mool is really in his element, dark-synths in some retrospective funk that hopes to alter the past and future all at once. This is one of those tracks that leaves you with an automatic feeling of nostalgia, a quiet discomfort at the realisation that it hits so many chords at once. Both uplifting and sad, the changing tempos which switch between double and normal time make this tune breathe. Akin to much of Burial’s eponymous album, it’s a feature which makes you want to hear more but simultaneously you want it to stop. This nostalgia is replicated too in Kode9 and the Spaceapes’s Backward. Maybe these artists should start a Nost-Step collective for the wobbly depressed, suffering under a known quantity of some unmentionable substance.

Wax Rose Saturday’s old school Hip Hop jam sound is over-toned with something like slowed down Breakcore, which make it a pleasantly messy offering. This is a welcome reminder of classics De La Soul and Cypress Hill, with some DJ Shadow thrown in by the wayside.

Though by far entirely disappointing, Mux Mool’s debut album offering proves not to be entirely satisfying either. It could be its general slow-stepped feel, but since others have used this advantageously and corrosively – Rudi Zygadlo Interviewed here, Dam Mantle – it leaves the rest of the album, not its tempo, open to criticism. That said, half way through the album it really warms up, only to fall down again into what feels like a happy complacence. Unfortunately, Mux Mool’s universe leaves you feeling a tad unsatisfied at the end. Sort of how you feel as you sink the warm dregs of a pint as the sun fades on a wintery Sunday.

Read our review of Bonobo’s fantastic new album

Submit your music Close