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The Muffins - Bandwidth CD (album) cover


The Muffins

Canterbury Scene

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4 stars The reunion record of THE MUFFINS after a long time disbanded was waited with great interest and, although it is nos a s aggressive and innovative as their first records, it is a great album. Not so noisy and experimental as the first ones, it is a more accessible record, in a softer vein, but very interesting indeed and, for those who don´t know the band, it can be the best way to discover them. Less in the avatgarde and muich jazz rock oriented, it´s kinder than teir noisy first records (which I love quite a lot). Reccommended for those who want t discover, and not to miss if you are really interested in the jazzier sounds of prog.
Report this review (#114987)
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars After a 20 years hiatus, the famous Washington DC group The Muffins regrouped and recorded a new album on the great Cuneiform label (where their previous albums have been reissued since along with two archives/sessions compilation), the historical quartet recording this over a two years period between 99 and 01. The amazing thing with The Muffins is that they've released only one album while they were together (the debut Mana/mirage) but have released some four or five albums posthumously from the period where they were indeed a group. So when Bandwidth (and later Double Negative) was released, this was actually their second real time release (or non-posthumous release), to my knowledge anyway.

Have The Muffins retained their original impetus after an almost 20 years absence. Well not really, but it doesn't make the recordings from their second career anyless interesting, even if they have less energy. Yes, they have veered a little Soft, while avoid sounding too much like a Machine, but not really being able to avoid it. Soooooo, I guess you understood that there were still some Kentish attitudes that still pervades and seep through their calm fusion. Indeed tracks like Military Road, Dear Mona and People In The Snow sound like modernized National Health, Keith Tippett Group or even Nucleus, and I'll be damned if this is not to thrill me, especially with the more complex World Maps. Actually half the fun of this album and its follow-up is being able to see who influenced their writing on which tracks. You might get the impression that The Muffins' latest albums might be derivative, and I guess that to a certain extent, this is exactly the case, but they manage to be progressive enough to grace us with some more progressive moments (the middle section of Out Of The Boot). Another small beauty is East Of Diamond with its small string section, and its successor Sam's Room leaves it nothing to be desired.

An honest comeback album that will not displease demanding progheads, but is not likely to enthusiasm them like their early stuff. Solid enough to warrant a satisfaction guaranteed, but certainly not enough for a trip to the stratosphere.

Report this review (#125514)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars It's been more then 20 years in between studio albums for THE MUFFINS. So you could say that this record is more mature sounding, and it is. I found it less experimental than their early stuff. It's smoother and softer I guess you could say as well. I do prefer "Manna / Mirage" and "Chronometers" over this one by quite a bit.

"Walking The Duck" features lots of horns honking (ducks) and I like the raw guitar before 2 minutes. "World Maps" opens with strummed guitar as mournful horns join in. It changes to a more uptempo melody before 1 1/2 minutes. Horns, light drums and bass lead the way after 2 minutes. Some dissonant horns late. The next two tracks are both less then 2 minutes in length. They're both excellent. "Military Road" is better in my opinion. I like the atmosphere they create early. The bass and light drums are relentless as the sax plays over top. Excellent tune. "Dear Mona" is rather light but it gets better as it plays out. "People In The Snow" features outbursts of sound that come and go. Sax starts to dominate a minute in. It changes 2 minutes in as sax take a back seat. Flute before 3 minutes as trombone comes in.

"Essay R" opens with smooth horn melodies. Actually there are lots of horns in this one. Guitar makes some noise 3 1/2 minutes in. Nice. "Out Of The Boot" is surprisingly dark and heavy to open. Horn melodies follow as things lighten. Xylophone? before 1 1/2 minutes. Flute then comes in and leads the way. Drums are great. Flute is back 5 minutes in. Darker after 6 minutes. Great tune. "East Of Diamond" opens with restrained organ sounds before sax comes in with drums and piano. The melody stops after 3 minutes as scraping sonds can be heard from the guest violin, cello and viola players. This continues until a sax led melody returns after 5 minutes. "Sam's Room" is a short jazzy tune. "3 Pennies" features piano melodies throughout.

A really good album that doesn't quite match their earlier recordings. This one is smoother and jazzier overall not as Avant that's for sure. Still an excellent record they should be proud of.

Report this review (#178437)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Review Permalink

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