Review Summary: Yoga instructor continues to serenade the end of the world; bad juju ensues
As a man who makes a living as a yoga instructor and lives out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, it’s understandable to assume that Gonjasufi’s output is the work of a man who views life through a far different lens than the rest of us. Naturally, his music reflects his perspective; it’s fragmented, jagged, and elusively indefinable even at the best of times. Squelchy lo-fi hip hop beats, joined at the hip to inverted soul and rampant psychedelia - it's fear and loathing in the Mojave. Equally at home as the soundtrack to a man sun drunk in the middle of the blistering white heat, its production also wouldn’t be remiss recorded from the bottom of the deepest ocean trenches.
As interesting (and interesting really is the right word here) as the production is, it’s more the hypnotic allure that ends up pulling you in, more so than the dexterity of the music itself anyway. Breathless and deliberately out of time (and key), its disjointed nature instinctively forces you to attempt to make up for the loss of time in each measure, and in anticipation you find yourself readying and bracing for the next inevitable wave to hit. Which makes for a rather participatory affair, but there comes a point where the unique becomes commonplace, where the novelty wears off and the unexpected starts to become the expected, the obvious. Even Gonjasufi himself, with his scratchy bullhorn of a voice becomes noticeably obvious; even when he’s absent from the piece you can almost sense his presence, waiting just behind the music, attempting to gather his thoughts or looking for a piece of rope to bridge the obvious gap in his philosophical metaphors. He’s never been the archetypal doomsayer, prophesying from an available street corner, but at the same time he’s never been too far from it; here, his rhetoric consists largely of societal anxiety, a somewhat obvious choice for someone who looks like he’s spent far too much time on his own.
As far as the songs go, they’re simply snippets from a broken mind fascinated by far too many ideas and unable to properly settle on just one to truly explore. ‘Feedin’ Birds’ feels like the greatest after-party to the end of the world, a soundtrack to a battlefield littered in shades of grays and reds. ‘Nickels and Dimes’ seems to continue that theme, and makes a great deal of sense if you picture Gonjasufi as the last man alive, walking through the dead streets sweetly serenading the end of humanity. ‘Rubberband’ is Salvador Dali expressionism, with its reverb-dripping bass and oozing, liquefying appeal. And then there’s ‘The Blame’, perhaps the most “normal” of offerings here, a track that blatantly attempts to arrive at some kind of breakthrough or crossroads, but wisely Gonjasufi avoids (or more realistically is unable to arrive at) the inevitable realization. As such, the track finds itself forever stuck in a cycle that seems doomed to play out for the rest of eternity.
The problem with MU.ZZ.LE
is that, as a self-produced effort, it blatantly lacks the restraint that might otherwise have seen this become something truly extraordinary. Under the tutelage of The Gaslamp Killer and Flylo, who admittedly aren’t artists known for their restraint, Gonjasufi’s work was deliberately approached from a musician’s
point of view. Here it’s dirty and grimy, and all over the place; which while exciting, ends up simply being an experience that you don’t really wish to go through again once you come through the other side. It’s a unique soundtrack for life at the fringes of humanity, and its scattershot and haphazard declarations make a lot of sense given their creator. But while its bumpy evolution feels right at home, MU.ZZ.LE
is a journey devoid of compromise, complacency, and above all else, comfort.