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Mudville (EP)

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Album Review

Call it what you want: downbeat, dub-hop, or the ever-popular acid jazz. Too many names, don't you think? Yet in the growing realm of indefinable trip tracks, many groups try to escape that fine line of creativity and conformity. Where does Mudville fit? Even with this new duo's dreamy words and cool breakbeats, it'll most likely lose itself in the field of acid influence that spread from the U.K. like brush fire. But think of it: Who imagined the genre metamorphosing into something '80s kids never thought it would be — downright sexy?? Although enormously arguable, Mudville could be a Massive Attackian seducer, housing sultry combos of bob-and-weave beats with jazz matazz. Similar to trippy sister Portishead, the group proudly imbeds personal longing, private spirit, and tone that leave you with visions of the attractive loner in a candy-striper smoke room. Marilyn Carino (vocals, lyrics, guitar) and Benjamin Rubin (bassist and producer fresh off his tour with Chris Brown and Kate Fenner) put together poetics and smooth electronics that are sweet. They jump start the brain with Carino's lyrical majestics that move as an impressive boggle — sorely missed and overlooked through the years. Chilling phrases like "a blaze of woman's tears into your open mouth like a waterbird" are much of the highlights while escorted by Rubin's bluesy bass, hypnotic vibe, and beats. Even Chuck Mackannon's trumpet and Dred Scott (Dred Scott Trio) melodica add some extra spice to tracks like "High Rise" and "Waterbird." So as a result of this musical mesh, ideas and talent are rearing their pretty heads. But today's fan of acidic style may feel more magnetism towards a track like Tricky's "Makes Me Wanna Die." It carries simplistic hip-hop blackness that's often irresistible. Comparison is also a thorn — including those itching to stamp Carino as a second Beth Gibbons. The only difference is that Gibbons rarely bothers with rubix cube lyrics when memorable phrases like "all mine," accompanied by incredible range, are enough to set her apart. Both have crisp, jazzy vibrato and similarity. Others may see it as a game of copycat. The group arrives with unpredictable timing, when acid and trip-hop groups are still running circles in search of their own path to glory. Mudville's depth may be a little too much for a time period where passion goes hand in hand with simple, unadulterated power. Not just power in tone, but a catchable power in beat and in words. Taking a chance on Mudville seems more than safe as the group establishes a seemingly new wave jazz persona. It's more trip than it is hop, but its provocative, breezy production and vocals are more than welcome to a slowly budding music arena.


Formed: 2000 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

A duo from New York City via San Francisco, Mudville work primarily in the Portishead tradition, mixing downtempo electronic beats with vintage soul and jazz influences underneath alternately languid and powerful female vocals. Mudville are producer, bassist, and keyboardist Ben Rubin and singer and lyricist Marilyn Carino; native New Yorkers who first met while working in San Francisco in the early '90s (Carino with former Rain Parade leader Matt Piucci, Rubin as a bassist with various local jazz...
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Mudville (EP), Mudville
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