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The Glory of Man Is Not In Vogue

Mudville

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Album Review

As the dark electronic brood of acid jazz, trip-hop (or whatever they're calling it this third time around) comes back into favor, new groups are hard-pressed to distinguish themselves from the outfits of old (old of course being somewhere around 1996). Impressively, Mudville does just that, evoking the melancholy dirge of Portishead on the opener, "The Hero of the World" until the middle-eight reduces not to an unadorned hip-hop beat as expected, but rather a melodic piano refrain. It's a small difference, but one that is almost shocking to your ears, pre-programmed to presume the obvious, given how formulaic most downtempo is. Those same subtle nuances highlight this debut record by the San Francisco duo of Ben Rubin ad Marilyn Carino, who between them have worked with artists as diverse as Neil Young & Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot and Killah Priest. Carino's voice maintains the somber tone of Beth Gibbons, but her range matches the bluesy swell of PJ Harvey. Air-like keyboard phrasing drives a majority of the songs, with a warbling minor key ache that fits naturally with mildly synthesized percussive clicks and whistles, and of course the steady-as-a-rock drumbeat. The unit breaks free the most on "Surfer Girls," which displays a musical breadth far greater than you would have ever imagined in the opening chords of this album, taking the funeral march some places it's never before been, the ocean.

Biography

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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The Glory of Man Is Not In Vogue, Mudville
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