Sound of Mucus

Filth Pharmacy

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The band has chosen the disgusting name of Sound of Mucus. The debut release is entitled Filth Pharmacy. It all comes across like it's going to be some sweaty, hairy hardcore punk or

gangsta rap aggregation, ready to boot down the doors and have a dirty party. But nay, nay, this is avant-garde free improvisation played by mild-mannered Scandinavians, at least one of whom for sure wears glasses. The first of eight numbered "lessons" -- the ninth and final track is a short "Mucified Lecture," bringing to mind the underside of an unpopular high-school teacher's lectern -- seems to be recorded documentation of drummer Andreas Axelsson's decision to set up his kit and play a solo outside of the gates of a kind of specialized "music limbo" where players get to hang out while awaiting the final judgment. Near the end of the track's eight minutes, Johann Sebastian Bach himself is dragged by, also soloing on his axe, sitting atop a truck that was used for hayride scenes in at least five teenage rock & roll movies. An obscure but nevertheless respected critic of the European free improvisation scene, specifically the branch designated as Scandinavian avant-garde, was so moved by this track that he sent the CD, sealed in a plastic container, to a research lab where a study is underway regarding the effect this type of noise music has on so-called "normal people." The results of two recording sessions by Sound of Mucus, both undertaken in the month of August, a year apart, were taken to an office building, the nature of the business requiring strict confidentiality. The entire recording was broadcast, then repeated, at medium volume on the building sound system. Research assistants reported the surprising results:

"We have more questions than answers. Mainly, were the members of this group given a tour of this building? Did they study the business' normal procedures and daily schedule? Did they somehow get to know the people working there, to be able to gauge their moods and tolerance level?"

These questions were apparently relevant because the music had somehow ridden the crest of moods in the office, a phenomenon the researchers compared to surfing, probably because one of them is a surfer and that is all they ever think about.

"Whenever a worker would get just absolutely irritated about something he was doing -- right at the breaking point -- the music would either somehow make sense for a moment, or would disappear entirely. As a result, everybody calmed down and in general, productivity was excellent."

Herman Muntzing plays a "flexichord," which can be loosely described as a deluxe tabletop guitar setup. There are moments when it sounds like a normal instrument, but they are fleeting, like glimpses of a dairy barn from the window of a jetliner. Martin Kuchen is credited in two different saxophone ranges as well as for performing on "found objects"; as for the former instrumentation, he passes a severe test indeed. In only the rarest cases will an instrumentalist's instrument be completely unrecognizable to another instrumentalist who claims proficiency in the same instrument. For example, a duet recording of the percussion duo of Paul Lovens and Paul Lytton, stylistically similar to Sound of Mucus, was loaned to a drummer, who returned it with this comment: "Are you sure these are drums? I didn't hear any drums on there." In another case, a famous free jazz saxophonist played a new ensemble recording by a younger reed player on the scene, and four listens later was still claiming he couldn't hear any saxophones on the record at all.

A slightly lower standard involves music critics, but should be taken seriously since inevitably classic recordings are the subject. Several top jazz publications and national newspapers published reviews claiming that there were actually no trumpet tracks on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew CD. Perhaps it is not worth mentioning after all in the shadow of such monumental critical discourse, but a part-time music critic who happened to work in the aforementioned office building was curious about the music and commented thusly after reading the CD's booklet and tray card: "It says there is a saxophone player but I never heard any saxophone and I was listening the whole time."

A drummer has also been mentioned, indicating that somebody -- maybe even a music critic -- actually recognized a drum set. But like the other members of the trio, the percussionist is likely to play very quietly. At times he proceeds so carefully he is more like someone with a hammer, trying to locate a stud behind the wall. In general, the gentle way some of this music develops is a wonderful thing, both a revelation and an amusement considering the harshness or sheer clumsiness of the sounds involved.

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