Mugstar & Damo Suzuki – Start From Zero

‘A marriage made in heaven’ is one of those phrases that is glibly bandied around, usually in relation to two fairly good things that briefly occupy the same time and space…so it hardly does justice to a meeting of two titans of head music, namely Mugstar, purveyors of some of the best psych/kraut/space rock this side of Jupiter, and Damo Suzuki, former vocalist with Can and one of the finest musical improvisors around. This is less a marriage, more a tectonic event whose aftershocks continue to shake the foundations.

The story goes that Suzuki and Mugstar were to play a show in Liverpool in 2012, and arch improvisor Suzuki was keen that Mugstar did no preparation, rehearsal or planning – the show should be completely improvised, that they ‘Start From Zero’ and so the resulting coalescence of mighty talents is all the more impressive. On hearing ‘Waken The Night’ you could be mistaken for thinking this was a group who had playing together for a while and had rehearsed the fuck out of their material. The track itself is a whirling celebration of what all involved do best – the trademark Mugstar cosmic invention, driven ever onward by the rhythm is relentless, in a very good way.

‘Subway To Sound’ reins it all in a tad, presenting the listener with a more ethereal, slow-burning experience before becoming the musical equivalent to a panic attack – the sometimes incoherence of Suzuki’s vocals, coupled with the twin guitar and synths of the ‘sound-carriers’ give it a claustrophobic quality. It segues neatly into ‘Innanewah’with it’s drone laden, spacey synth which simultaneously manages to sound sinister and jaunty.

Album closer ‘Zero Coda’ a motorik workout stretching to over 20 minutes and ups the tempo again; the rhythm section again relentlessly driving the music forward. Of all the tracks this is the one that sounds like a vocalist with a seminal krautrock group joining forces with a contemporary psych group – a perfect closing to what must be one of the best live albums of recent years (and the sound quality is top notch!)

All-in-all a tour-de-force from all involved and one that, in some format, must grace the collection of anyone who professes to like psych/kraut rock (and the blue vinyl is a lovely thing to look at!)

The vinyl, if any are left, is available from Important Records and some retailers. Available digitally from the Mugstar Bandcamp page


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