Muffins, The - Double Negative

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: Rune 199
Format: CD
Total Time: 79:10:00

If the members of The Muffins were supposed to sit still and rest on their laurels after their great comeback Bandwidth, someone forgot to tell them. In fact, while that someone was contending with the unfortunate effects of advanced Alzheimer's, some insidious commie was telling them instead to go balls out with their sophomore reunion album. Thomas Scott, Dave Newhouse, Billy Swann, and Paul Sears listened. Sort of. While they went light years beyond what their previous album had to offer, they didn't just create a nonsensical ball of chaos to turn the capitalist world on its back and kill it; they actually made sure that they were making good music. So the Alzheimer's dude didn't win, and neither did the commie, but the rest of the world sure as hell did.

Double Negative might not be as satisfying a general experience as its predecessor was, but if there has ever been a case of experimentation being worth it, this is it. True, the most enjoyable tracks are also the most traditional, particularly the hilarious brass powerhouses of "Choombachang" and "Exquisite Corpse," both incredibly exciting with their surf rock and spy music quotations, but the more unexpected stuff usually pays off as well. There is, for instance, the macabre string commencement of "They Come On Unknown Nights," which reminded yours truly of Celtic Frost's forays into the string realm. Yes, Celtic Frost, the metal band. And it works. In fact, the only instrumental of a little more avant-garde nature that doesn't really work is "Metropolis." In a seventeen-piece album in which roughly half the stuff belongs to that area, that's a pretty good track record.

And the other half keeps up in pretty much the same manner. The only complaints to be made are that some keyboard sounds are overly cheesy, that a couple of softer tracks get to be too mellifluous for their own good (particularly "Childhood's End"), and that a few other pieces seem to lose their sense of larger structure at some points. Otherwise, one better be ready for stuff such the crushing attitude that unexpectedly closes "Writing Blind" and the gorgeous dissonances of "Stethorus Punctum;" the fire and finesse with which the members of The Muffins play their instruments; and the dizzying array of contrasts to be experienced like a delightful whirlwind. Good stuff indeed. Goes to show what a man with Alzheimer's and a commie can do.

Similar artists: Hatfield and the North, Soft Machine, Caravan, Miles Davis

The Highlands (6:04) / Writing Blind (5:54) / Choombachang (2:45) / The Ugly Buttling (3:39) / The Man In The Skin-Painted Suit (2:44) / Childhood's End (6:15) / Exquisite Corpse (6:52) / They Come On Unknown Nights (4:18) / Cat's Game (3:51) / Stethorus Punctum (4:01) / Dawning Star (5:20) / 5:00 Shadow (3:16) / Metropolis (3:35) / Angel From Lebanon (6:55) / Frozen Charlotte (2:53) / Maya (4:24) / The Two Georges (5:19)

Thomas Frasier Scott - sax, flute, clarinet, keyboards, percussion, programming
Dave Newhouse - keyboards, sax, bass clarinet, flute, flarinette
Billy Swann - bass, guitar
Paul Sears - drums, guitar

Guest musicians:

Doug Elliot - trombone
Amy Taylor - violin
Laura Dent - cello
Kristin Snyder - viola
Marshall Allen - alto sax
Knoel Scott - alto and baritone sax
Okorie Johnson - cello

Open City (oop)
185 (1981)
Bandwidth (2002)
Double Negative (2004)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: July 4th 2005
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 1572
Language: english


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