Origine du Groupe : North America
Style : Electro , Indie , Psychedelic
Sortie : 2012
By Nate Patrin from http://pitchfork.com
Gonjasufi's 2010 release A Sufi and a Killer succeeded largely on the strength of an engagingly odd presence: the simultaneously croaky and sweet voice of Sumach Valentine, which sent initiates scrambling to identify fellow travelers, from Captain Beefheart to George Clinton to John Fahey. It stood up as a strong example of psychedelic rock rewired for an audience more attuned to Madvillainy than The Madcap Laughs. But it still scanned a bit more like a shared vision than an individual voice: The album was just as much a revelation for the Gaslamp Killer, who helmed the bulk of the production and laid down his own mark with a sprawling slate of beats that complemented Valentine's vocalizations.
When the album that introduces a unique vocalist to a newly expanded fanbase also happens to do the same for its equally distinct producer, you wonder how each will fare on his own. If last year's freebie 9th Inning EP was a catch-up session of self-created, unreleased older tracks meant to remind newer fans of his broader repertoire, MU.ZZ.LE scans like a means to transition from A Sufi and a Killer's multiple-identity psych into more personal territory. And it does this in a way that reinforces what made that previous album great.
Gonjasufi and fellow San Diegan noise-break purveyor Psychopop have centered their production around a codeine-paced, heavy-headed swoon that still manages to bristle with an undercurrent of stress. Psychopop handles beats for four of the 10 cuts, and their half-speed wooziness is like the musical equivalent of the slow-motion running you might experience in an unsettling dream. The headswimming electric piano blues of "White Picket Fence" and the loping, pendulous guitar in "Feedin' Birds" set the pace, ethereal as it is, and get a surprising amount of pull from their downtempo floatiness. But Gonjasufi's own production is just as steeped in dubbed-out, crumbly atmospherics. The bass in "Venom" glows and throbs, peppered with a jingling percussion timbre halfway between a tambourine and a handful of change. "Blaksuit" sounds like a vintage funk 45 flipped to 33, its twangy loop pacing back and forth like a half-finished thought. And even when the snares pop, as they do on "Nikels and Dimes", they do so through a thick coating of resin and ash.
If you think that means MU.ZZ.LE is a passive, inert slog of an album, keep in mind that every trudging, straining step of the way is cut through with Gonjasufi's voice, which is still a hell of a thing. The unconventional cast of his voice might be Valentine's most immediately recognizable trait, but it's not his deepest. Every last creaking wail, blown-out mutter, and wounded drone is heavy with reflection, and after a few listens it all starts to sound less like altered-mind eccentricity and more like raw, unfiltered feeling. For all the talk about shroomed-out weirdness and otherworldly mysticism that's surrounded his music, there's a more crucial sense of a real, laid-bare emotional core here.
All those shaky notes and half-intelligible murmurs disintegrating into decaying echoes might run parallel to an oddball Lee "Scratch" Perry sensibility, but they evoke frustration and dejection vividly. The words aren't always clear through the fog of reverb, though this might be by design, some statement on how the plain truth of honest words can be sometimes hard to understand. But the agitated sentiments remain clear, whether castigating against the abuse of privilege in "Nikels and Dimes" or straining to maintain an interpersonal connection on "Rubberband". When Sumach's wife April has a wraithlike torch-singer turn in the second half of "Feedin' Birds" and distantly doubles up his lead on "Skin", it's to act as a sweetly voiced counterpart to lyrics that allude to guilt, death, and a search for love. And when the funereal lo-fi new wave of "The Blame" emerges near the end of the 24 1/2-minute running length, it's the late peak of a record that wrings out a devastated man's crisis of consciousness-- "You say I'm not supposed to kill/ Keep walking with my head high/ But every time I go somewhere/ I feel the dread inside their eyes." MU.ZZ.LE might be a transitional point on Gonjasufi's path and it shows just one face of an eclectic, multifaceted performer. But it's also that rare album that feels meditative and cathartic all at once.
01. White Picket Fence
02. Feedin’ Birds
03. Nikels and Dimes
08. The Blame