Imagine if you can, an album that features members of Napalm Death, Merzbow, The Wildhearts and The Cardiacs. Do you have that image in your mind now? Imagine if that album also featured, guesting on vocals, Mark E Smith of The Fall. What would that album sound like? Well “Error 500”, the second release from Mutation, is that album, and for any serious lover of music, it is an undeniably essential release. Turning on a sixpence from technically dense guitar riffs and time signatures, to grindcore, before adding delicate vocal harmonies, this is a release that defines fusion in its’ purest sense.
‘Bracken’ opens the album with an initial brutality that displays just one element of the sonic palette employed. There is energy and aggression delivered with breath taking technical skill, which leaks over into ‘Utopia Syndrome’. This track however very quickly mutates into a bouncing sing a long, before descending back into a sheer wall of noise. The words here, however, do not do justice to the music on offer. ‘White Leg’ has a thunderous momentum, and a pummelling chord progression that is both exhilarating and cerebral, even with a passage that could almost be taken for a traditional Christmas song. Devotees of The Cardiacs will be more than pleased with the abrupt changes in tempo, time signature and mood of tunes such as ‘Protein’, music totally for the head and heart. Mark E Smith performing on any tune, with his distinctive vocal delivery, can easily transform any piece into a Fall song. Not the case with “Mutation” however. The splenic voice most of us love to hear adorning any tune is recognisable, but here we have a demented array of electronic noise wizardry to back it up.
Fans of Devo may recognise a possible Mothersbaugh influence on ‘Computer, This is Not What I…’ whilst ‘Sun of White Leg’ has the listener reeling from the onslaught of flailing blast beats one moment, before checking their music system the next to see if a mid-1970’s Electric Light Orchestra album hasn’t been slipped on by mistake. A good example of how this dense mix of instruments avoids being confused in the production is “Relentless Confliction”, which literally grips the listener by the shoulders and shakes the music into to them. “Innocentes In Morte” appears to blend Frank Zappa’s synclaver compositions with the majesty of black metal, before the album closes on a “comparatively” lighter note with the “Benzo Fury”, ever so slightly less frenzied as the rest of “Error 500” but no less majestic.
Hopefully this release will help to introduce artists such as Ginger Wildheart, Mark E Smith and Merzbow to a new audience of listeners who are willing to take on board releases that are not always easily accessible, but are always ultimately rewarding, from the mighty Ipecac label. Fans of Mike Patton and Mr Bungle will not only recognise the fractured schizophrenic style, but will relish the fact that Mutation have taken those values one step further.