ELECTRIC MUD: The Inner World Outside (2022)
“Even if it's not pure EM, I couldn't resist listening to Electric Mud's newest CD”
1 Exploring the Great Wide Nothing 3:56
2 The Fear Within 7:20
3 Around the Mind in 80 Lies 7:13
4 Those who Leave the world Behind 3:52
5 Guardians of the Weather Machine 4:04
6 Silent Stranger Suite 10:06
7 Sérotonine 5:14
8 Descent into the Forsaken Valley 5:03
9 Moving On 2:04
(CD/DDL 48:56) (V.F.)
(Prog EM, Cinema Music)
I liked Quiet Days on Earth so much that I couldn't resist asking for a promotional copy of Electric Mud's newest CD, THE INNER WORLD OUTSIDE. Yet again, we are far from the Berlin School genre and other derivatives of this style of electronic music (EM) with a progressive music centered on the basic equipment, that is synth, keyboard, drums, bass and guitar. No singer, just music. And very good music that leaves a lot of room for synths and keyboards and that suits especially well for those days when we feel the needs to sharpen our ears with another musical style. The sound texture and the construction of the tracks have evolved between this new album of Hagen Bretschneider and Nico Walser band and the last one. The additions of Timo Aspelmeier and David Marlow on keyboards, orchestrations and drums, as well as Judith Relzik on violins and cello, explain in large part this even richer musical envelope, especially on the level of orchestrations. This new trio of musicians has also participated fully in the writing of this album, which favors a little more direct access to rhythm, relegating far behind those long atmospheric passages that we found in Quiet Days on Earth. That doesn't mean that there are no more...
Like this superb opening to the album that is Exploring the Great Wide Nothing. This procession for deconstructed melody is guided by sumptuous arrangements in a cinematographic musical texture to give you goose bumps. Sérotonine is a bit in the same mold, with a slightly more murky texture on a good and harmonious flute and nice violin orchestrations. The music reaches then a good heavy, hard and slow theatrical rock. Theatrical, Electric Mud's music can embalm even the least fertile imaginations. Take the opening of The Fear Within and its reverberating filaments that snake through a rainfall mimicking long organic hootings. Electric piano shudders a few chilling notes that follow the slow cadence of a bass and sparse drum hits. At high volume, fear lurks in every corner of our listening room. But here, the piano refuses to integrate this phase with those limpid notes that court a flute. The carousel of arpeggios is exhilarating and guides our senses to a crawling bass line like Patrick O'Hearn's best slides. It's at this point, a little after the 4-minute mark, that The Fear Within transforms into a cathedral-like progressive rock with ambient organ layers and melodies over heavy percussions and vocal arrangements worthy of an early Vangelis. It's a diabolical angelus that handles the opening of Around the Mind in 80 Lies. The bass is simply corrosive and drives the music among riffs and jerks, reminding a bit of Mike Oldfield's immensity in his wild Amarok album, with acoustic and sweet passages that flirt with its opposites. And these opposites being bizarre vocal effects and other such extremes in a harsh and delicious texture. And like Quiet Days on Earth, some parts of the guitars have that very Oldfield edge.
Those who Leave the world Behind develops slowly with a dramatic vision to explore Canterbury style anthems where the folk flavors from the man who gave us Hergestridge are perfuming ambiences that remind me of Jethro Tull's best phases. The guitar riffs are murderous in Guardians of the Weather Machine, a track that begins its journey in a staggering storm of agonizing winds. Percussive effects tinkle, as well as various sources of noise are heard in an opening that slides into acid rock with the guitar's Funk bouquet. And what is the weeping violin doing here? This is the magic of contrasts in THE INNER WORLD OUTSIDE. Afterwards, we enter into the second half of the album which is quieter. Nostalgic is the piano that starts Silent Stranger Suite! This longest track on the album takes a meditative approach with piano, keyboard, acoustic guitar, synth and violin exchanging their presence and delicate ambient harmonies. This piano has not finished seducing, since it opens the destiny of Descent into the Forsaken Valley whose first 60 seconds are based on the softness of Silent Stranger Suite. Except that the title develops with a cinematographic intensity for a fear film with this always dominant piano while little by little the music awakes on ephemeral rhythmic jolts. Moving On ends this other very good musical rendezvous proposed by Electric Mud by once again this splendid moving piano. And even if some background noises try to express this schizophrenic impulse that always slumbers in us, at least those who chew the sound reserves of these bands and/or musicians always in search of excellence, Moving On remains majestic and gives these necessary ammunitions to start again the adventure promptly by bringing back the intensity of Exploring the Great Wide Nothing to our ears.
But not too fast, since the download of THE INNER WORLD OUTSIDE gives the right to 3 hidden tracks that were cut at the final mix of the album. These 3 tracks sound like a prequel to this new album by having a Krautrock essence that is more in line with the music of Quiet Days on Earth, a bit like Hagen Bretschneider and Nico Walser were again alone. Last File of the Digital Nomad is tasty in its avant-garde reggae approach that turns into a good driving rock. The track exploits a slightly chaotic ending, but it respects the duo's creative vision. Metamorph Diaries is the most beautiful of these 3 gifts and also in the pure tradition of krautrock with a guitar in a structure that gets rid of its ambient envelope to walk towards a rhythm built over a repetition of percussive riffs to be finally solidified by percussions. Magic, it sounds strangely like a music for a rather different Pocahontas. The flavors are there...! After an intense opening, Empress of the last Days slides on the softness of a very dreamy acoustic guitar. The structure of the music, even if very beautiful, is not without reminding the visions of Pink Floyd on Ummagumma by exploiting an intense apocalyptic passage to finish by a good rock stowed away with sumptuous orchestral arrangements. We are far from this Ummagumma, I grant you, but not at the level of creativity. Still not satisfied? Well, Electric Mud has just released a mini-album, Lost Places, for free on their Bandcamp page. There are 3 more tracks, in addition to the 3 tracks described above, including the excellent track Giant Kraut Chromosome, making it even more enjoyable to conquer this other excellent album of this brilliant German band.
Sylvain Lupari (April 20th, 2022) ****½*
Available at Electric Mud Bandcamp