Thursday, August 14, 2008

mugiboogie by mugison

I'm pretty sure Mugison might be insane. Any man who names a two minute, thirty-three second scream fest "I'm Alright" clearly, well, isn't. Although, having been described as part of the Icelandic mainstream, it could just be that along with the breathtaking scenery, the Icelandic people were gifted with a higher tolerance for musical idiosyncrasy. Not that I'm complaining. I'm pretty sure Mugison's newest musical offering Mugiboogie (out now) contains more genres and out and out originality than all of our mainstream top-twenty combined.

With Mugison, it's always been about the gestalt. Solo live shows are likely to feature a sweet, guitar-filled love song on the heels an laptop-based industrial ditty about "My two girlfriends who were both cheating on me at the time." It's a weird, off-kilter form of auditory whiplash designed to keep listeners on their toes. And more often than not, it works. He isn't kidding when, on his myspace, he counts both Eddie Vedder and Eddie Murphy as influences.

This time out, Mugison leans more toward the blues, proving that underneath his willingess to go out on a musical limb, there's a consummate trained musician. "The Pathetic Anthem" and "George Harrison" embrace folk simplicity without boring, much like two-generations removed Woody Guthrie. Most surprising though is album opener "Mugiboogie," a swinging, growled ode to the feminine gaze, complete with a Mugison first: drums played by a real human being! Normally, this would be the part where I'd say something trite about change being a good thing, but in all honesty I stopped trying to pin this guy down two albums ago. So, err...yeah change1?

Like a Scandinavian Reggie & The Full Effect, there's also that "other side," -- dark loud screaming that would send small animals running for cover, if it weren't for tongue planted firmly in cheek. Yes it's loud. Yes it's occasionally scary. (Contemplation of suicide over industrial beats after a mournful, string-filled ballad about the death of a parent is unsettling to say the least.) However, by the time Mugison puts away the funk and forces his audience to put in the earplugs, the listener is already emotionally invested, far past the point of being put off by genre hopping. Of course, even when dabbling in his darkest themes and sounds, Mugison manages to keep his finger firmly on the situational bathos. Case in point? "Two Thumb Sucking Son of a Boyo," a breathtakingly amazing title that pretty much renders my job as a blogger null and void.

Of course, with music like this, who needs a quasi-literate peanut gallery anyway? By the time Mugison takes the listener through the twelve tracks of Mugiboogie, one gets the feeling he's already done all the explaining anyone would ever need. I still don't know if Mugison is alright, but as long as he continues to keep his fans guessing, he'll be okay.

1. Can you really change if your career is based off never staying the same? See Chuck Klosterman on advancement.

(photo Mugison:Hörður)

mp3: "Mugiboogie" by Mugison

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