Album Review+Interview: Muta-scuM - Idle Worship


Take a ride with us as we breach the chaotic storm of sound waves that makes up a very unique and fantastically interesting album, as well as asking Adam just what his music is all about. Album releases Friday 23rd of July.

Noise, breaks, occasional melody, and something that sounds a bit like tinnitus. - Muta-scuM
 

Interview


Q. For those unfamiliar with your band, how would you describe your music, and where does the name Muta-scuM come from?


A. Stylistically it’s probably easiest to call it industrial breakbeat. It’s a bit of a mish-mash. I’ve tried to incorporate a mix of rhythmic noise and break core with a bit of techno but it’s kind of ended up not quite being any of its component parts. Believe it or not the name actually came about way before the music. It was originally a logo design I doodled during a lecture at uni and when I wrote the first track it just kind of fit as a name.

The idea is that it’s mutating scum although loads of people used to pronounce it as “mutter” as though I was insulting someone’s mum. It’s become an almost prophetic thing for the music though, the mutation of what started as absolutely crap music into something half decent (I hope).

Q. The religious element is very clear throughout your music from the artistry, to the song titles, and the places you’ve taken media samples from. This is a very rare element to be found in industrial so can you tell us about the direction of Muta-scuM and what message your music portrays?


A I’ve grown up in a family that have a pretty strong Christian faith going back a couple of generations so it’s probably not much of a surprise that I’ve chosen to follow that faith and just about everything I write comes from that. It’s the biggest thing that’s happened in my life and has affected every decision I’ve made since; So a lot of the stuff I write is more to do with interpreting my worldview and experiences and getting that into some kind of cohesive sound.

Some of the tracks are just music for the sake of music. “Still Here, Still Breathing” for example is just how I’ve always answered the question “how are you?”. Some of the tracks have more actual meaning, like “Welcome to the Meat Grinder” is me tackling the fact that I lost 3 mates to suicide within about 3 years of each other. That one is me kind of trying to scream at the cliff-edge that there’s still hope, hence the vocal sample saying “Never give in to the pain. You are loved. You are not alone.”

Q. Which songs are you most proud of on Idle Worship and do they all culminate into a specific story or are they more of an amalgamation of theme rather than a concept?


A. It’s probably a tie between “A Truly Divisive Icon” which was the last track I wrote for the album and “Rebuilding Jericho” which has been sitting in the vault since about 2012. Icon’s got the most interesting rhythmic layers, I was messing about more with drum editing and wanted to keep it as atonal as I could but still wanted it to have the religious theme running through it like a stick of rock. Jericho on the other hand was more about making something that shifted and moved so it’s got some odd fills and is a bit more cinematic.

The album overall is kind of an anthology of songs from the last 10 years. The track listing does seem to have kind of clumped together into a couple of sections though. The first bit (Still Here, Life_Online, & Meat Grinder) ended up being a kind of life and death themed section and then Icon and Porn Scars kind of ended up being about moral theology. That was purely accidental though.


Q. Tell us about your history. Where did it all start, and what inspired you to start making music?


A. I’ve always had some habits of making music. My folks signed me up to piano, guitar, and violin lessons in primary school so I’ve had a habit of playing music since I was really young. Muta-scuM almost started by accident. The brother of one of my uni mates had a really basic bit of software for writing music back in about 2006 and I’d just discovered EBM so we had a bit of a mess about session writing some sludgy electro trying to copy what I’d heard from the likes of Wumpscut. Frankly, it sucked, but not as much as the rubbish I tried writing on GarageBand after losing contact with him. Over the next few years I started messing about with found sounds and samples and eventually got some decent writing skills layering up tracks.

I have to say a massive thank you to Infest here because if I hadn’t won a copy of Ableton Live 6 in their raffle back in 2006 I might have never got anywhere with my production values but many years later, here we are.


Q. Which bands have you shared the stage with and which bands would you love to play alongside in future?


A. Annoyingly it’s been absolutely years since I got to play live with this project. I had gigs playing alongside the likes of CE Digest, The Ladder, Wrapped In Plastic, and Cyferdyne (although they might even have still been Cyberdyne then) back in the day but I had to put everything on hiatus in 2012 because I joined a pop-punk band (Malokai - search for “Malokai epic fall” on YouTube… you won’t regret it) that took up all of my time. It was great fun, but it meant I had no time to even think about Muta-scuM although I got to do more touring and played more gigs than any other time in my life. In the future I’d love to play shows with the likes of ESA or Cacophoneuses, and Infest one day is obviously the dream gig, but for right now I’d be happy to just get out and play live again.


Q. What artists are you listening to most right now?


A. I’ve been listening to a ton of LITH recently, I recently discovered Bambi OFS, and been listening to a lot of the stuff that Hands have been putting out like the newest Mono No Aware and I’ve revisited older stuff like Twinkle quite a lot. It’s either been that or hammering Ska-Punk bands. There’s not really much middle ground.


Q. What life lessons has being in music taught you over the years, and what would you change about the scene if you could?


A. The biggest one is probably “Write what you enjoy”. If you don’t enjoy it, nobody else will bother with it, but also, you might be the only one who ever hears it. I’ve been sat on bits of Idle Worship for so long I’m almost sick of them so it’s great to finally get other people aware of it. The other thing I’ve learned is knowing the right person is a big part of the music world.

Having taken all that time off from the scene to tour in a pop-punk band, I've lost lots of contacts from years back so I’m having to start from the ground up again. I think if I could change anything about the scene it’d be to make sure that as many small music venues survive the pandemic. I think that’s going to have a big impact on how easy it is for bands to get in front of new audiences and get known or even just keep going.


Q. Anything you’d like to say to your fans?


A. Just a huge heartfelt thank you. Some of you guys have been around since the very first gigs back in 2009 or whenever it was (Hi Dad!), and if you’re new, thanks for listening. Hopefully I’ll be able to see some of you in a venue soon.

 

Review


An almost psychedelic pulse of concentrative Theta waves ripples out across your body and mind in the introduction track of 'Inhale'. This meditative peace is juxtaposed with an odd resemblance to the introduction of 'A Clockwork Orange' and it's electronic score that lends itself to its foreboding ultraviolence. In many ways this track feels like a deep dive and reflection in to the state of your own mind, opening yourself up to fully appreciate the album you're about to listen to. The synthetics tones and pulses are chaotic yet orderly, intense yet soothing.

It's only when Muta-scuM's signature style of -Break Beat- hits in the second track 'Still Here, Still breathing' that you open back up to the world around you with some very energetic and energizing dance worthy tones. It's a very catch track and got me fidgeting to the beat in my chair all the way through. It's a nice touch that it contains the sample "Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs darling." -from the 1989 movie 'Heathers'.


'Life_Online' is a bit of a barrage of self help quoting which personally puts me off but it goes well with the beat and I suppose it is inspirational in a way, especially if you're the type that likes people like Anthony Robbins.

'Welcome to the meat grinder' has a swarm of chaotic power noise that makes me reminisce of fantastic low budget sci fi 80's movies that all had great soundtracks thanks to abused modulators and synthesisers; This track captures that feel brilliantly. It's like a blockbusters burning down in some oddly serene anarchy!

Check out our previous review of the track 'Lying Idol' HERE.

'Rebuilding Jericho' opens with a retro wave twist of trance, electronics, and the unexpected. This whole track feels like fighting your way through a mash up of video games. Much like in the film 'Ready player one' this track would have worked well in that film no doubt.

Next up we have 'Bad Friday' - You can find our earlier review for it HERE

This is where the album really starts kicking up the pace with 'As the fire burn out'. The tempo and aggression seems to have been taken in an almost ESA meets Nero's day at Disneyland blend of power noise and high toned madness which carries on in to 'Porn Scars' which is a fantastic track. This is a track I can see filling up a dancefloor easily and one of my favourites on the album. It brings a lot of industrial's and trance's successful formulae respectively and creates a beautiful, high octane, rave of a tune.

'A truly divisive icon' brings about the old school EBM feel of gritty instruments, malicious impact, and the scrapping satisfaction of early industrial. It's a fantastic track to bounce off the back of the previous showing just what directions Adam is capable of with his unique break beat style.

In to 'Pain and Adrenaline' now which is the third released single before the album. It's like stumbling down a kaleidoscopic cyberpunk city tripping on some new found sci-fi drug while robots stare at you emotionless and oblivious to the mind bending chaos exploding all around you.

'Under me' is a chilled out rest, like the day after the night before in it's slow paced serenity. That is until 'Throneless' once again throws you in to a very impressive and action packed track that really gives the sense of a spiralling world of technology and hopelessness. It can only be described as art in audio motion.

Finishing up the album we have 'Iron Hide' which although lacks the grandiosity and energy of previous offerings and containing a voice sample that some might raise a questioning eyebrow at, it still packs a decent punch in it's own right.


Tracklist

Inhale Still here, Still breathing

Life_Online Welcome to the meat grinder

Lying Idol

Rebuilding Jericho

Bad Friday

As the fires burn out

Porn Scars

A truly divisive icon

Pain and Adrenaline

Under Me

Throneless

Iron Hide


Conclusion


Idle Worship is a powerful and strong debut album that keeps on giving with each listen. Extra layers of depth and intrigue flash past your senses with each new repetition. It's hard to stand out in a world where the term industrial can be broken up in to dozens of sub genres and yet Muta-scuM does indeed stand out with his self called 'Break Beat' style of industrial that feels unique and fresh. This is certainly an avenue of sound experimentation that I would love to see explored further!


Scores


Technicality: 7/10

Dance factor: 7/10

Energy: 7/10

Vocals/Samples: 6/10

Re-play value: 8/10


Overall score: 7 / 10

 

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