Death Blues
“Do” (Excerpt)

With two hands, sticks, skins, and no small measure of focus, Wisconsin-based multi-instrumentalist Jon Mueller has constructed a catalog that bears his stone-jawed rhythmic precision and conceptual sophistication as calling cards across a deepening roster of collaborations and solo works. As part of the collective behind “post”-“rock” ensembles Collections of Colonies of Bees and Volcano Choir (with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon), Mueller’s drums constitute the rigid backbone of ambitious guitars+electronics arrangements that smolder into swathes of intricate snare work and tom battery. The eponymous album by his Death Blues project situated him at the center of a series of compositions for drums, voice, and hammered dulcimers, conceding the harmonic dynamism of his other projects in favor of a fist-in-the-air primality — informed by the bludgeoning repetitions of seminal kraut-rock, the rigid structures of minimalism, and by what he deems “the inevitability of death as impetus to become more present in each moment.” With Death Blues blaring on your speakers at the appropriate volume, Mueller foists his physical presence into your airspace, blanketing you with a litany of dry vocalizations and bruising beats that sketch out a black-and-white still image of a man working himself down into the grave, or working himself up into transcendence.

Mueller’s forthcoming Death Blues LP Non Fiction departs from the shorter sessions of his previous album, offering two side-long suites that stretch his rhythmic mantras to new lengths of brain-drilling recursion. The segment of “Do” premiering above finds Mueller pounding out a single phrase with the discipline of a wheat thresher. His kicks and cymbal crashes loop into a hypnotizing foreground, tightly tethered to the one-note squall of Jim Warchol’s and Ken Palme’s hammered acoustic guitars, while a patchwork of glossolalic vocalizations competes for our attention in the back of the mix as the memento mori beckoning us away from the machine blades. The track’s hallucinogenic video, directed by Kaveh Soofi and edited by Mueller himself, superimposes a human figure against a collage of abstracted natural imagery pulsing with fractal details. As the central riff sheds its layers of vocal hysteria for a bone-dry finale, we glimpse a pair of questions meant, like all of Mueller’s music and writings, to draw us back into a celebration of the present.

Non Fiction arrives on June 17 via Sige Records.

• Death Blues: http://deathblues.com
• Sige Records: http://sigerecords.blogspot.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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