Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mudboy - MUDMUX Volume One (DNT Records 7")

The first in an ongoing series of remixes, arrangements and demolitions of other peoples' tracks, MUDMUX was the first I'd heard of Mudboy. As far as I can tell, Mudboy's based out of the lively Providence scene, but this is hardly Lightning Bolt material. Rather, Mudboy plays the organ, whether it be old school Wurlitzer style (he hunkered down to the most epicly ornate organ I've ever seen at a free show at the Providence Performing Arts Center) or his own contraption, the "Mudboy Minnie," which is basically a small organ hooked up to a Yamaha FM synth. He'll even make you one for a cool grand if you want. Actually worth checking out his little website, it seems to give a bit of insight into his unique approach.

As I said though, this is the first in a planned series, each one released by a different label with a different color scheme. I should start by saying that Tynan over at DNT did a great job with the packaging here. I mean look at that cover, it's super intricate. I guess he enlisted the apparently substantial screen printing talents of R Lyon and Kevin Hooyman so cheers to them. The blue vinyl only adds to it.

As for the sounds, the first side is a remix of some Extreme Animals midi file called "RockRapPopRocks," which Mudboy claims was originally recorded onto a floppy disc! The remix is retitled "Lil John Carpenter Tribute Song." I don't know who Lil John Carpenter is, but this is some tribute. Starting off with a kind of pseudo-techno bass beat, the thing builds itself into real midi mayhem. It's pretty dancey stuff on the surface, but given that I have no idea which sounds are coming from Extreme Animals and which aren't, I don't really know who's doing what here. It's like some glitched out video game score, with the clattering and, well, muddy drums of--dig this name--Jeremy Lazy Animal Magnet Harris adding a weird sort of dementia to the whole thing. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that all of the odd electronics in the background, lurching around like some manic circus sideshow score, are Mudboy making what once had to be a pretty grooving number a weird disfigured freak of the hipster dance party.

The B side is another cover from a band I had only heard of to this point, DarkDarkDark. The original track was called "Come Home," and it seems the new one is too, though who knows why he would rename one and not the other. Consisancy is over-rated I guess. That said, this one's super weird. Odd little girl vocals a la Joanna Newsom are meshed with the accordion additions of Nona Marie Dark to create a super weird street performance diddy. The whole thing keeps slowing down and getting more and more looming, eventually warping from sun-shiny Shirley Temple stylings into a dark little sea chanty as sung by the captain's crippled daughter. The voice, despite the subtle background textures and increasingly warped accordion lines, maintains some semblance of it's cutesy delivery, cutting through the murk no matter how slow it gets until the very end, when everything is broken down to such a degree that the digital signals start to reveal themselves--a grim fade out indeed. The "backup fingers," whatever that means, are provided by Alec K Redfearn of the Eyesores.

It's all very beautifully mixed and Mudboy clearly has a talent for putting his own touches on things without completely destroying the integrity of the songs themselves. Though the originals sound like they probably aren't exactly my bag, Mudboy keeps it interesting and intensely oddball--this is clearly someone with a grasp on their aesthetic. The next edition of the series will be orange and called Dub This! which sounds a little more like my style. Given what he did with this material, I'd love to see where he takes that one. Limited to 535 and still available from DNT as far as I can tell.

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