mudboy - volume IV... "This is Folk Music", Last Visible Dog Records
Now here’s an odd one. Mudboy makes and recreates old circuit bent church organs, customising and retrofitting old keyboards for his own nefarious means. Then he plays rich music that hints at psychedelia and drones on them, mixing in field recordings, noise and complementary sounds, and even the odd drum sound that sounds like he’s been let loose on Aphex Twin circa Ambient Works 85-92’s drum machine. At times it sounds like a primitive electronica, far abstracted from the hyper-beats of so-called “IDM”, and reclaimed for the contemplative and wide-eyed explorers and discoverers of new territories and new states of mind.
Often it’s reminiscent of Florian Fricke robbed of his Popol Vuh, but reinvested with a different meditative strategy, playing alone in a field. On Mudboy’s website there are pictures of him performing outdoors from within some kind of bubble, rendering any image of him as hazy and undefined. This is a rich image for the music he has created – warm soft passages of keyboard massage and manipulation that are both lyrical and filling. In these circumstances, any other instrumentation would be wholly extraneous. 7/10 -- Dave Stockwell (15 June, 2005)
Mudboy IV: This Is Folk Music CD (LAST VISIBLE DOG)
Dude, how do you expect me to keep up with all the good music out there? With the Blastitude Record Reviews column, I'm mainly just looking at one little micro-genre, the tiniest, which is basically psych-noise-folk art-school dropout, and even way down here I can't even come close to keeping up. I'm barely even looking at people who write songs yet, mostly just those who play primordial musical/noisical essence jams. Believe me, I'm interested in good songwriting and arrangements, and I want to cover all that too, but I can't even keep up with all the really good primordial ooze bands, y'know? For example, Mudboy. I got one Mudboy CD sent to me months ago, one of a double-digit barrage of CDs from the Last Visible Dog (see above), and I promptly lost it. Which kinda bummed me out after hearing his contribution to the Elegy Box compilation (see above), because I wanted to hear more.
And, as luck would have it, another Mudboy disc arrived in the mail, this time a CDR rather carelessly strapped to a goofy sci-fi drawing of an alien jamming on an organ, from the Breaking World Records label of Easthampton, Massachusets. This time, I played it right away and damn -- it's good! As far as I can say, Mudboy is a solo dude from Providence, RI whose thing is simply to play the organ. And oh what playing -- dusted 70s hardcore progrock-scapes, pulsing rhythmic motifs, totally psychedelic, like Richard Wright just showed up in your living room with his Farfisa to jam out some Astral Social Club covers he's been working on. I'm telling you, the electric organ is one of the greatest of all instruments, and it's always been a key transition point with which liberated souls can take religion back, out of the church and back to the earth, home of rock'n'roll and ecstatic music. Mudboy knows this intuitively, and this is his music. Folk music definitely, a travelling electric folk music. Unfortunately, maybe due to the goofy packaging, or maybe just due to me being a mean mistreater (of CDRs), a few tracks on here skip uncontrollably. I hope I can dig up that Last Visible Dog CD . . . I want more Mudboy . . .
And here it is a couple days later and I have found that Last Visible Dog CD, which ends up being another issue (I hesitate to say re-) of the very same album, This Is Folk Music, now in a jewel case and with completely different artwork, even though the Breaking World edition appears to still be in print. The LVD artwork isn't as memorable, but the edition is a very good thing regardless, because now I can listen to the album all the way through. I'm realizing that it kind of veers off into weird no-spaces at times, and I forget that it's on the stereo, and when I remember again, it sounds like industrial music to me, and I don't mean like Skinny Puppy, I mean like a broken refrigeration unit. This aspect of Mudboy music is interesting, and will be investigated further, but it's the early extended post-Riley church-raga peaks on here that I'm digging the most.
From Aquarius Records:
MUDBOY This Is Folk Music (Last Visible Dog)
We first heard the oddly named Mudboy on Last Visible Dog's recent mammoth six-cd Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box. Curiousity thus piqued, we're pleased to now find a Mudboy full-length cd has now also just been released by LVD (actually, this is a reissue of a recording previously put out by an even smaller label). This Rhode Island feller's woozy music, performed with home-built electronics and modified vintage keyboards (a circuit-bent church organ we're told), would be the perfect soundtrack to a creepy, sleepy sort of imaginary movie... this cd's full of ominous drones and sinister synth but it's also soothingly repetitive and goshdarn lovely. Whooshing interludes bridge the spaced out explorations of minor-key organ melodies that permeate the disc, occasionally infiltrated by field recordings and broken rhythmic glitch. It's an atmosphere of menace that's strangely warm and inviting. If Bo Hansson's ghost made Halloween music, or down on his luck Eric Malmberg (keyboardist of Sagor & Swing) was hired to play a lullabies for a monster baby...they'd sound a bit like Mudboy, perhaps. And if "this is folk music", then Cluster and John Carpenter are folk music too, 'cause Mudboy seems to be inspired by both kraut-tronics and analog fright flick scores. And we're ready to snuggle up with that monster baby...
Mark Coyle, The Unbroken Circle UK
"Here we have mudboy on 'This is Folk Music', that is folk as music for
all people by intent rather than necessarily within the tradition. Indeed this
almost sits wonderfully outside music at all for a while, as gulls and the
sea wash over the listener and distant notes float with the waves. Woven into
this fabric are complex patterns of organs, the circuitry manipulated, bent,
redirected and hacked into surging, pulsing patterns. Like a mutant version
of The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' torn up and reconfigured into a huge
self-sutaining network. This is electronica taken into the realms of inner
space, layered sounding often eastern and futuristic, in need of a language
where we have little.
A spiritual music of the imagination, as close in intensity and tone to sufi dervish music as it is to anything else. This is the music we imagined the future would sound like back in the sixties, when we we imagined hover cars, silver foil clothes and utopia. It's brave music, full of hope and the thrill of adventure in sound."
Aural Pressure (RJS) 5.2005
"...With a promo blurb that advises mudboy as an artist who plays a "homemade circuit bent church organ", I had an initial hunch this was not meant to give the impression that this would amount to typical Sunday service tunes!
So with his personally modified organ equipment, Mudboy IV’s music is such that it straddles a fine edge between the electronic(a) and more traditional sounding classical organ dirges (it is an organ after all!), with some field recordings, static etc, thrown into the mix for good measure. Thus with the resultant concoction, a bizarre musical landscape has been created for the listener to immerse oneself in. Although tinged with a dark and sombre tone in places, there are equally as many playful and quite joyous streaks, indicating that things are all not deathly serious in Mudboy IV’s camp. Likewise certain songs also manage to capture a quite decadent cabaret vibe, which evokes that certain unsettling undercurrent that David Lynch has made his trademark in many of his feature films...
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