Mudboy This is Folk Music

[Weird Forest; 2011]

Styles: loopy puddles of synth/effects/drone-heap that are a blast to splash around in
Others: Terry Riley, Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds, J.D. Emmanuel

About a minute or so into This is Folk Music, the proceedings take a radical turn, lest you think Mudboy has nothing better to do than field-record waves/bird chirps with slight echoes of keys as a backdrop. Amid the sound of water lapping up against a shore, you can’t help but feel something isn’t quite right. Then, a match is struck and what was dark is illuminated, what was muddy is now crystal-clear, what was found sound is now full-on orchestration. It’s as if for that first minute we’re lingering outside of a beach cave, wondering what’s inside until Mudboy clicks on his helmet light and implores us to spelunk with him.

I find Mud’s approach to composition via This is Folk Music much more satisfying than those found on his 2010 collaborative album Impossible Duets (my only other reference point), because, as it was composed in 2005, This is Folk Music is much more wide-eyed at the possibilities of what can be accomplished with little more than keys, a pinch of drone bloat, effects, and a keen sense of audio Tetris that slides all the boxes and colors into just the right slot. As has become common in the cassette era, This is Folk Music comes to us on limited vinyl with a resequenced tracklisting so those who missed out on the presumably teensy CD run in ’05 can reap its rewards now, the heavyweight way.

It doesn’t take a genius to see/hear that Mudboy was ahead of the most recent synthonic music wave, his work prefacing the onslaught of a heaping helping of mostly middling analog-synth recordings that take side-long, misguided stabs at Gas, Tangerine Dream, and even fuckin’ KITARO, without the awareness to render the proceedings interesting for anyone not actually involved in the sessions. (There are many exceptions of course, not the least of which is Frkwys Vol. 7 by Lopatin-Borden-Ferraro-Godn-Halo.)

Mudboy keeps his compositions fresh by:

(a) ensuring the constituent parts are always moving and shifting.
(b) refusing to isolate any one element.
(c) custom-fitting each part together to form a glorious whole.
(d) presenting four or five new ideas per side, as opposed to, say, ONE.

Most rattling is “Beirut Dance Party,” which swaddles impossibly creepy, spiders-on-Indiana-Jones’-back strings in loping bass bursts and presumably doctored swipes of air horn. And these ain’t yr grandpa’s synths — these babies swoon and swirl, attacking the ear from several different angles and building a campfire next to your toasted marshmallow of a brain. Listening to a kid diddle his synth library should always be this much fun. Unfortunately, it usually isn’t.

Links: Mudboy - Weird Forest

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