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The Muffins - Double Negative CD (album) cover


The Muffins


Canterbury Scene

3.55 | 23 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Double Negative" is the playful title for The Muffins' second release after their early 90s reunion. The genius remains the same and so does the iron will to deliver refreshing challenges in the area of progressive rock; the technical mediums are different in the sense that they are enhanced, and so, the band's taste for impressive textures and refined instrumental interplaying can be better conveyed to the listeners' ears than in earlier albums. In fact, this album incarnates the sort of sound production that this band always deserved. 'The Highlands' kicks off the album with initial cosmic nuances on synth and sax followed by an exciting main body that sounds like Happy The Man-meets- Shadowfax. 'Writing blind' bears a more muscular sonority, featuring wild sax interventions and an exquisite dynamics provided by the rhythm duo. The alternation with softer passages competently completes the track's sophisticated aura. 'Choombachang' has a quite Zappaesque title? and it certainly sounds very influenced by Master Frank in his big band-oriented albums. 'The Ugly Buttling' states a combination of dissonance and eerie moods, and much of this contemplative stance is preserved in the sequence of 'The Man In The Skin Painted Suit' and 'Childhood's End'; but then comes 'Exquisite Corpse', a mischievous piece whose patently extroverted mood is humorously ornamented with creepy brass and weird guitar and percussion interventions. 'They Come On Unknown Nights' focuses right away on the band's sordid side, albeit religiously preserving a sense of exquisiteness; segued into 'Cat's Game', the following track, the pair offers a vision of The Muffins' RIO side (somehow confluent with the artistic ideology of Thinking Plague). From this moment one, the repertoire becomes dominated by the band's calmer side, providing enough variations to keep the music interesting and the listening experience engaging. 'Stethorus Punctum' explores soft Canterbury-related moods, while 'Dawning Star' stages an encounter point with the World Music standard (with added density) and '5:00 Shadow' states a sensual, relaxing groove (including slight shades of RIO). I feel that this particular should have been a bit longer, but it is still great, and so is the deconstructively oriented 'Metropolis'. Whos adventurous vibe is solidly comprised in a warmth framework and over a polished rhythmic basis. 'Angel From Lebanon' combines evocative and grayish passages until the closing agile jam delivers a Hatfield-meets-Soft Machine groove. The couple of 'Frozen Charlotte' and 'Maya' provide a captivating lyricism, in this way paving the way for 'The Two Georges' to close down the album on a Canterbury- meets-RIO note: a special mention goes to its bizarre organ intro, very gothic indeed. I love this album very much: I regard it as the manifestation of The Muffins' finest hour. I'm frustrated that I discovered this band so late (last year), but now that I did, my prog collection has benefited immensely from Muffins albums such as this masterpiece.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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