(IDM-r) mu-Ziq - Lunatic Harness - Review

From Brother Alphabet
Sent Mon, Apr 6th 1998, 17:07

Review - mu-Ziq: 'Lunatic Harness'


1.  Brace Yourself Jason (6:22)

Reminds me of some of the stuff on RDJ's RDJ album, but in a good way.
Best aspects are the droning synth sweeps and beat structure. I could
probably do without the up-front plinking and the rubber-band bassline. I
could also do without the James Brown-ish samples toward the end. Overall,
a decent track with around a 7/10 numerical score on the 'Alphabet Scale'
(of which no one has ever heard.) 

2.  Hasty Boom Alert (5:15)

Very nice build-up. Beat style is definitely at least influenced by RDJ
and a selection of others. More attention to melodic structure than many
recent RDJ releases, though. Nice synth interlude in the middle. Takes me
back to the good ol days of Newcleus. I like the way the track tapers off 
slowly, with a re-entry of hip-hop-like beats at the very last. 8/10.

3.  Mushroom Compost (3:19)

A much more contemplative attitude here. Layers are much more effective,
beats are on the same level as the various synth layers. Great effects on
the beats about halfway through. The in-and-out peek-a-beats are
still in effect, but well-used. 8/10.

4.  Blainville (3:40)

Rolling, pulsating effect at intro, plink beats, nice bass drum though. 
Heavy effects on high-pitched pings - Vibraphone-like melody makes me want
to say 'La la la la la' and skip through a park, but it is easily melded
with the rest with the intro of the next synth layer. 7/10.

5.  Lunatic Harness (6:05)

This is one of my favorite tracks. Features wicked 'human beat box'
samples. Very funny and very smooth at the same time. Seriously determined
beats are also a plus. Sudden break to synth rhythm is also good. One
negative is second wave of synth, but it doesn't last too
long...Additional effects arrive and make up for it. Especially the
string/harp-like layer with the echo and the sweeping string/violin in the
distance. At the halfway point, we are in full effect with a very smiley
chaos. By the end, the beat box samples return and the video-arcade
synth sounds don't seem to matter all that much. 9/10.

6.  Approaching Menace (7:01)

Alien/Space like. Echo cymbals, then a slight taste of noisy beats. A
grinding synth makes itself known. Then, beats return to hang around and I
become very happy. Calms down a bit around halfway, but it was only
kidding. Continues with fervor toward the end. various rolls and
synth-drum batches do very well. Calms down again toward the end, but
again, it was just to lull us into a false sense of relaxation. And then,
my favorite ending, the sudden drop-off. 10/10.

7.  My Little Beautiful (5:39)

Eek. Starts off like a gospel ballad. Somewhere along the way where Amy
Grant would have started singing, some big metallic beats arrive. Praise
the Lord. That vibra-synth plink-poop seems to be ever-present on this CD.
I can let it slide repeatedly, though. What I can't forgive as easily is
the 1986 Casio drum pad tom-drums complete with echo. 7/10.

8.  Secret Stair Pt. 1 (4:16)

Synth layers to start. Gradual build from dark, medieval feel to a
rounded, thoughtful feel. Beats fade in. Same beats, sadly, from most of
the previous tracks. I wonder if mu-Ziq is not taking the same beat
structure and seeing how many various different treatments can be applied. 
On the up-side, this particular treatment sounds really good. A piano
layer comes in in the middle, and the synth mass at the center continues
to progress rather than to repeat itself. 8/10.

9.  Secret Stair Pt. 2 (5:00)

Part 1 and Part 2 are not mixed together, which is good. Especially since
part 2 seems to be only part 2 in numerical sequence. This track is also
one of the better on the CD. Wide open upper atmosphere, with a snapping
snare throughout, rolls and other seemingly predominant effects are
minimized or subdued. Melodic form is well presented. I wish this track
was longer. Rolling 'acid' rhythm comes from underneath toward the end,
very nice. 10/10.

10. Wannabe (6:49)

Nice samples here. Return of the alien/space synths. Very creepy and
beautiful. Chilling, even. Looped mechanical sample is excellently
intertwined.  Waves of psychotic distortion seem like nails on chalkboard
magnified and slowed down drastically, but they aren't I wouldn't think, I
just keep getting the shivers up my spine. A spooky vocal loop gurgles to
the surface. 'Wanna be your lover baby, I don't wanna be your 
friend'. This is a most whooparse track. Beats came out of somewhere, I
didn't even notice, which is another indication of the goodness of this
track. Ends with the vocal loop fading into echo. 10/10

11. Catkin and Teasel (4:35)

Disjointed flute/synth layers at intro. Hip-hop beats. And, of course,
what mu-Ziq track would be complete without the same beats from elsehwere
on the CD? It wouldn't be so bad if -only- mu-Ziq made use of that beat
structure, but as it stands I have heard the same drum riffs from too many
others. Returns momentarily to the hip-hop beats while the flute/synth
disjoints rejoin. Piano can be heard in the distance. Recorder/Pan flute  
sounds out of whack or at least out of place. Toward the end, we have more
RDJesque chaos. 7/10.

12. London (6:11)

String/synth intro, with high-pitched chimes. Spaced synth layers and
effects come and go. Chilling hollow synths arrive, nice echo. Then,
somebody starts playing Ventolin. Oh, nope, it's still mu-Ziq. Thankfully,
that doesn't last long and we return to originality, for a little while
anyway. The 'ventolin' loop comes back in. Maybe RDJ has given himself so
many names that he is now every group in the industry. It's a good thing I
like RDJ's stuff (on the whole) or I'd hate half the stuff that comes out
these days. 7/10.

13. Midwinter Log (6:38)

Starts off nicely. The obligatory snare roll is quietly playing in the
background. Synth loop is nice, though. It seems that mu-Ziq's best traits
are its synth arrangements. At this point, the beats are mostly canned. 
This track doesn't do much more for me than the rest of them. 7/10.

Overall score: 8/10

This CD, while not having any seriously bad qualities still did not bring
me anything I hadn't really heard before. It did have some strong tracks,
but if I rated this release against other from the genre, I would score it
much lower. When compared to those who had more to do with originating the
beat structures throughout, this CD would score below average. For
example, if placed against Autechre, even earlier releases like
Incunablula and other material from the Artifical Intelligence series, and
especially if compared to Tri-Repitae, this particular mu-Ziq CD would not
fare well. Also, pick an RDJ release at random, other than the ambient
work, and you will hear a much more well-put together group of music than
mu-Ziq has offered on this CD. Of course, it is unfair to make such
comparisons in most cases, but when the styles are so very similar, what
other course is there to take?

Submitted 4/6/98.
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"I paint what I think, not what I see..." - Pablo Picasso
"You're not the boss of me!..." - J. A. Hutto (Pre age 3)
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