Mutyumu
Ilya


4.5
superb

Review

by Ben Greenbank USER (41 Reviews)
October 31st, 2008 | 118 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Envy at the Opera.

Despite the incredible power of the internet search engine, standard Wikipedia checks and MySpace music, Mutyumu prove elusive even to the all encompassing grasp of Google. Type that album into Google and you’ll find more ways to illegally download Ilya than actually legally purchase it. Getting my hands on a physical copy involved the colossal hassle of working my way through Amazon Japan (literally one of two places on the entire internet which will sell it to you) and a two week wait. With that out of the way I’ll tell you what I know. Mutyumu are a Japanese six piece and their favourite artists stretch from Bach to Emperor to U2; all of which can be traced to the sounds of this here album. Ilya is almost certainly their second album following on from 2006’s self titled, although there is a fair chance they have prior releases the internet simply doesn’t record. Much like compatriots Envy (who the band also name drop on their MySpace) everything is sung in Japanese and with translations completely out of the question there’s no lyrical analysis to be had. The album cover hints at a Romeo and Juliet styled concept disc but who’s to say really?

Musically they are a band whose sound runs across genres one would assume were irreconcilable, but honestly who mixes obvious genres like metal and hardcore anymore? It’s all about opera meets post rock meets death metal. What perhaps makes them most distinct from the many other bands throwing every musical colour onto their sonic painting is how Mutyumu’s music is not expansive and open it’s extremely claustrophobic and fast paced from the word go. Forget five minute ambient passages this is an intense listening experience capable of extreme brutality and angelic harmony in a matter of seconds rather minutes and it actually makes sense. There is no grinding halt to a crushing drop C guitar shred fest followed instantly by clean chords and clean singing, the whole disc flows impeccably and none of the experimentation into different textures sounds forced or tacked on. Never have I come across a band, whose sound is a mesh of so many contradicting genres, who’ve made an album so cohesive. Take for example ‘Die Ewige Widerkunft’, the song spends most of its length focused on spiralling pianos layered with staccato violins, but every so often it breaks into the most recognisable (dare I say catchy) vocal refrain before we are greeted with yet more tumbling keys and a wall of noise. Most unexpectedly (but in no way superimposed upon the track) there is about half a minute of pure metal towards the end. This is a taster for the next song ‘L’oeil est Dieu’ which contains more of the same with a much more clearly defined structure and a lot more heaviness and screamed vocals.

As a fan of less angular and abrasive music Mutyumu are to me at their best when they explore the more serene and beautiful aspects of their sound such as on ‘Unforgiven’. It is perhaps the most post rock sounding material here and is a gloomy juggernaut of a track akin to the most intense and noisy Godspeed climax complimented beautifully by vocalist Hatis Noit. Her voice floats and meanders across the highest registers of the human vocal range in a solemn and most haunting fashion. ‘Raison D’Etre’ follows it in a similar yet subtlety different manner by featuring a far more prominent role for the piano which is so often the drive behind their musical landscapes and despite the eeriest of build ups the track closes in the most simple way with a lone piano accompanying a spoken word (although it’s more whispers panned across both headphones) piece. The centrepiece of the album is the penultimate epic “Prayer” which runs the gamut of the entire Mutyumu sound. It opens with a mind blowing and gorgeous 90 seconds of Noit showing her vocal prowess. I was absolutely blown away the first time I heard this. Having become very jaded with music in 2008 hearing her soprano cascade over those dissonant and traumatic layers of sound restored my faith in just how good music can be.

An issue I’ve not yet touched upon but that is well worthy of mention is how extremely technically proficient this band is. Those of you expecting guitar sweeps and double tapping may be disappointed but the standard of piano playing is phenomenal by absolutely any standards and is well worthy of representing the behemoths of classical music who have so distinctly influenced them. The strings too are masterfully used to accentuate, animate and occasionally instigate the direction of the album. Battling with the Piano as the ultimate manifestation of the bands talents is the vocal performance. The purpose of vocals in an album which could easily work instrumentally is twofold. On the one hands her vocals work as another instruments to add yet another layer to the music in much the same way as Sigur Ros use vocals but at the same time her voice is frequently used in the traditional way vocals are used in music; as an immediately identifiable and endearing element to the bands sound.

A lot of people it seems listen to music in seasons (the most clichéd example of which is pop punk in the summer and indie acoustic in the winter) but this isn’t something that I’ve ever really done. However I do listen to music by the time of day. Some albums just sound better at night for me. At this time of year in the UK it gets dark pretty early so when I leave University in the mid to late afternoon it’s perfect environment for listening to this kind of music. As I walk past the headlights of the cars in congestion something about this music makes perfect sense. It’s intensely violent yet calm and serene, it’s cold and yet it touches so many emotions and despite being that web of contradictions it is an extraordinary album.



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user ratings (73)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
lunchforthesky
October 31st 2008


1039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Doesn't really sound much like Envy at all before anyone points that out but they are probably the most popular/recognisable influence for Sputnik posters.

Crimson
October 31st 2008


1935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This sounds very good, checking out now.
excellent review.

fireaboveicebelow
October 31st 2008


6837 Comments


this does sound very good, I'm looking for it

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
October 31st 2008


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's cool at first but then it gets really old really fast. Plus, the pianist steps all over everyone at all times.

Crimson
October 31st 2008


1935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The myspace tracks sound really, really good.

Kiran
Emeritus
October 31st 2008


6001 Comments


Really good review.
I remember reading somewhere about this record but not taking further notice (I think it was on the AP forums actually, while looking for info about that Forgive Durden musical thing), which is a decision I regret after reading this. I'm going to look for this.

Digging: Danny Brown - XXX

foreverendeared
October 31st 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

there are actually three places you can purchase this, according to their website, but all three are in Japanese and extremely difficult to get through, like you mentioned

*edit: actually one of those websites you can just click a button for English and it only takes a couple seconds to order this. here's the link for anyone interested: http://www.hmv.co.jp/product/detail/2770751/ref=1229697This Message Edited On 10.31.08

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
November 1st 2008


7026 Comments


Excellent review.

DownTilUnderground
November 1st 2008


23 Comments


I can't wait to listen to this. I will sometime tonight.

natey
November 1st 2008


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Terrific review, but this album is terribly annoying.

foreverendeared
November 2nd 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is my favorite album of 2008 so far

rasputin
November 2nd 2008


14550 Comments


I really liked the intro, but then the actual album started and, to be quite honest, wasn't too impressive.

foreverendeared
November 3rd 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

really? there's so much going on. i wish i knew Japanese so i could understand what she's saying, but other than that this album is really incredible.

rasputin
November 3rd 2008


14550 Comments


The female singing is fantastic, but that's pretty much the only good thing. The screaming is really bad, and in a lot of instances the keys and orchestral parts really sounded terrible with the other composition. Just a muddle, really.

foreverendeared
November 3rd 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

are you listening to the same thing i am? nothing is "muddled" when i listen to this

lunchforthesky
November 3rd 2008


1039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Seems to be really polarized opinions of this.

foreverendeared
November 4th 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

makes sense but when i listen to this i mostly hear utter brilliance

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2008


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i am goingto get this

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
November 4th 2008


3775 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Band reminds me of a Japanese After Forever. And yea, the pianist really does run circles around the rest of the the band.

Digging: The Flaming Lips - With A Little Help From My Fwends

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2008


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

don't know if I'm going to get this

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!



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