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Mudway - Some Strange Stories CD (album) cover





3.00 | 6 ratings

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3 stars Italian quartet MUDWAY have a history going back quite a few years, but they didn't start using their current moniker until 2009. "Some Strange Stories" is their debut album and was self-released in 2012.

And it is an aptly named album indeed. Strange music of the kind that I find to be rather difficult to describe too. Perhaps more intriguing due to the diversity of instrumental textures and effects utilized than to the quality of the compositions themselves, then again I'll have to admit that I haven't managed to explore this disc as thoroughly as would be warranted to establish that firmly. There are limits to how many times a busy reviewer can listen to a production prior to making a verdict of some kind, and this album is one that demands many spins before you'll be able to decide whether it's the music itself that entice or if it's merely the diverse constructions that intrigue.

In terms of style this is an album that probably fits into the art rock universe somewhere, and most likely within the corner of it that I generally describe as art pop. The melodies are strong and distinct throughout, often to the point of being hummable. The bass guitar and a steady set of rhythms are generally at the core of the proceedings, setting pace and establishing a generally catchy foundation for the vocals and additional instruments to play upon. Instrumentally wise, a frequent and recurring feature throughout are wandering piano motifs, most commonly given a subservient role in the proceedings. Describing the rest of the elements of these Italians escapades is what fits quite nicely into a description as difficult however.

Psychedelic inspired keyboard textures with a cosmic tinge to them are frequently used, generally towards the end of the compositions but occasionally also around the halfway point. Plucked guitar motifs similar to what is commonly used in neo-progressive rock is also an effect that appears now and then. As do chugging impact riffs bordering on metal on a few select occasions. While the vocals tend to have a slight avant touch to them, reminding me quite a bit of UK act Big Block 454 for this particular detail. Gently hammering keyboard motifs and occasional symphonic backdrops flavour the proceedings too, and alongside with the guitar work these details combined should probably see the band getting a favourable reception amongst a neo-progressive interested audience.

But when Mudway kicks off with a piece like Mud & Rubble, a creation that to my ears have ska in general and Madness in particular written all over it, then I guess this audience will find themselves a tad confused by the developments. Likewise with Caramel's flirt with new age and cosmic electronic music not that far away from some of Tangerine Dream's exploits, with a slight avant edge added to the proceedings for the heck of it.

"Some Strange Stories" is a perfectly named disc containing just that. Material hard to describe or put inside a well defined box, with strong and distinct melodies as a core feature alongside a rich musical diversity and what comes across as something of a tongue in cheek general approach. Innovative music for sure, and intriguing due to the sheer number of unexpected details to be found. The staying power of this album is one I'm unsure about however, it could be a brilliant item that will reveal it's strong sides over time and repetition or a novelty album whose impact will fade on frequent inspections. But whether Mudway's debut will turn out to be one or the other, it is a disc that warrants an inspection by those who tend to be fond of innovative endeavours. In particular by those favouring a high degree of diversity explored within a distinct melody-based context.

Windhawk | 3/5 |


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