Mute Math - Armistice: First Impressions

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Mute Math - Armistice: First Impressions




So, the Mute Math Mobile Listening Party bus rolled into town today, and since of course I bought the VIP tour package, I got to go listen. And it was great.

There are five notable differences from the first album. First, the arrangements are a bit sparser. This is not a bad thing. Each instrument and each part shines even more because of this, and while there aren’t quite as many layers to the songs, there are still plenty, and sounds just as full as the first album. This also helped focus the albums overall sound, it seems.

Second, there isn’t any overlap between songs. Once again, this is not a bad thing. While the album doesn’t flow from song to song quite as well, it overall is more cohesive. The songs generally have similar instrumentation and musical style, which makes this album feel more cohesive than the self titled. No loss at all.

Third, there aren’t any instrumental tracks. The album closer, “Burden”, is about half instrumental, and reminds me of a darker “Reset”, but there are no purely instrumental tracks. The instrumental tracks on the self titled were obviously great, but the lack of them here makes each instrumental section in the songs stand out more. I personally really like this.

Fourth, there are more slower songs on this one. Once again, I like this. The better mix of faster and slower tracks makes the faster ones stand out more without making the slower tracks blend in more.

Finally, there are more vocal harmonies, and Paul Meany’s voice is not run through pretty much any effects. It is his, pure and simple, which is great, because he has a great voice. I’m glad the producer, Dennis Herring, pushed him to do this.

The two standout tracks for me are the aforementioned “Burden”, and “Clipping”. Neither of them are the fastest songs on the album, but both are crazy awesome. “Burden”, as mentioned, is about 50% instrumental, and starts out with this Motown-esque intro that is great (seriously, you’ll think it is the 1960’s again). It then transitions into the main body of the song, which kind of sounds like a darker “Typical” without sounding derivative of the track. It then has a mini instrumental section, going into Paul Meany’s earnest cries of “I just can’t hold it together” before going back to the chorus. It then goes into the meatier instrumental section that reminds me of a darker “Reset”. After this, it continues with a
“Stall Out”-esque section that is absolutely beautiful before going into its darker “Obsolete” ending that includes a nice drum break. It is definitely an eclectic song, but it is overall cohesive and stunning. Afterwards, we found out this was Darren King’s baby, and you can tell. It really has his fingerprints all over it.

“Clipping”, on the other hand, starts out with a reeeeeeaaaaaaaally fat synth line with some neat tension and release moments and a surprise chord change. This synth line continues into the first verse and throughout most of the song, and with the first verse comes some nice, intricate drumming, and shortly in, a beautiful piano line. The chorus absolutely soars as all of the parts ramp it up some. A nice bridge primarily composed of strings follows before going back into the chorus, adding in some bells before just exploding. The song is pure beauty.

A couple other tidbits. “Armistice” is really fun. A nice, funky song that features a brass band and some great bass work by Cardenas. A little different for Mute Math, but definitely good.

“Electrify” is blazing. A really fast number with some nice crunchy guitars in the intro, and another fun one.

Overall, the whole album takes a bunch of chances, and all of them end up working out great. Mute Math out did their self-titled without a problem, and I have a feeling this is gonna be at the top of my list for Best Albums of 2009.

The whole CD is great, and I plan on picking up a physical copy of it to go along with the digital copy I am getting as part of the package I bought.

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