Rhythm & Views


I love good, fucked-up music as much as the next guy. This Icelandic artist, on his fourth full-length solo album, whips up a maelstrom of righteous noise with samples, distortion, feedback, high- and low-tech, and even traditional instruments. It's a slightly-out-of-focus, postmodern amalgamation of blues, glam, psychedelia, noise, death metal, trip-hop and glitchcore.

Mugison's approach, though, leaves me a little cold at first; he sounds a tad ironic, seeming to manipulate a listener's sympathy for sentimentality and pretension. Call it kitsch glitch.

But by the fourth song, I believe. On "Jesus Is a Good Name to Moan," Mugi starts stomping like The Beatles' "White Album" infused with T.Rex swagger. It's hard not to be moved by his paroxysms of howling, purging his demons like John Lennon in primal-scream therapy.

Speaking of the Beatles, the following track is "George Harrison," a paean to the titular artist's search for spirituality. Mugi seems to wish sadly that he had Harrison's dedication, but he suggests we all can "try a little harder to love." It's a lopsided country stroll, complete with delicate bells, that vaguely recalls the gentleness of Beck's Sea Change.

In the same musical vein is the Nick Drake-esque "Deep Breathing," in which the hopefulness wanes to something darker. From there, Mugi can't do wrong, proceeding through cookie-monster metal, acoustic blues, enervated gospel, industrial-strength punk and a Tom Waits-style take on soul.