Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music?

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The third album by Icelandic one-man-band Mugison has nothing in particular to do with the ethereal art rock of his compatriots Sigur Rós and Björk: Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music? is as oddball as its title, its D.I.Y.-sounding songs interwoven with cut-and-paste electronic breaks, spoken word interludes, and homemade sound effects, like the frankly rather irritating sound of water being poured that forms part of the rhythm track of "Birds." The sonic decorations get kind of exasperating after a while, because they're both extraneous and unnecessary: much like Will Oldham or Vic Chesnutt, Mugison is a master of building bizarre lyrical constructs that suddenly reveal unexpected depths of emotion, such as "Salt" and "Sad as a Truck." The album's high point is its most straightforward song, the immediately catchy Beck-like alterna-folk of "Murr Murr," which features both a strong chorus and a great, funky country-blues guitar riff. It proves that Mugison can write and record appealing songs without having to futz with them too much in the process, a lesson that might be put to better use in the future.

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