MUGSTAR – LIME

via Terrascope

 

Amongst my quirky filing system, in which albums are grouped along the lines of stylistic tendencies rather any rational chronological or alphabetical process, Mugstar albums hold pride of place alongside a string of Terrastock luminaries such as Bardo Pond, Kinski, Oneida and Grails as well as the odd Neu! and Hawkwind CD. This in itself probably tells you enough about the band to help you decide whether it’s for you or not. The British quartet rarely put a foot wrong in my eyes, and ‘Lime’, their third album (second this year I believe!) scheduled for an October release is if anything their strongest yet.

 

Whilst the thirteen-minute long ‘Serra’, with it’s extended Kraut-styled riffing, is obviously the stand-out cut of the album and a monster by any measure let alone Mugstar’s already high standards, ‘Radar King’ is marginally the most interesting of the four cuts on this collection: an instrumental which kicks off with a fairly typical for Mugstar Kinski-esque metronomic beat led by shimmering guitars and some gorgeous drumming (always a strong point if this band), before unexpectedly dissolving into an atmospheric space-rock cinemascape not a million miles removed from the Man band’s ‘C’mon’. The guitars then lead the listener out towards a blisteringly apocalyptic crescendo. A word of praise is in order too for the inspired addition of guest clarinettist Jonathan Hartley (of Clinic) who adds some hauntingly Hawkwind- and Beefheart-ian flourishes to the aforementioned ‘Serra’.

 

Opening cut ‘Sunburnt Impedance Machine’ is pure, undiluted Mugstar riff-trickery with chanted vocals which once again oddly enough brings to mind the Man band with perhaps members of Hawkwind joining them on stage at some celestial gig at the Roundhouse, whilst the closing ‘Beyond the Sun’ finds the band in a more reflective mood throughout the seven minutes of an elegiac, atmospheric synth / guitar ballet, with once again Steve Ashton’s brilliant drumming quietly insinuating itself into your subconscious.

 

That I adore this band probably goes without saying. That this is a contender already for one of my favourite albums of the year definitely is worth bearing in mind though. (Phil McMullen)