I like Mux Mool, I won’t deny it. I know that he isn’t one of those performers with a habit of putting out seminal albums. I would even go further: I don’t see him as being able to change the history of electronic music one bit, but hell, the bloke has managed to give shape to a sound with a patented flavour, high-octane digital musical forms that, although they draw on sources that are easily recognisable on futuristic beat turf, have their own body and stand alone. And that is an achievement these days, especially when you only have a single LP—the refreshing and console-loving “Skulltaste”– and a few scattered EPs.
The truth is that “Skulltaste” already let us know about the American’s ability to put out padded melodies in a format halfway between instrumental hip hop and electronic sounds bordering on the Gameboy generation. A magnificent, but limited, debut. Limited because Brian Lindgren was playing it safe by placing his bet on a very small palette of retro-futuristic sounds. Magnificent because in spite of his inexperience and the sound limitations, the album stood up very well on the iPod, with its cosmic melody and percussive power.
In his new LP, Lindgren returns to the work of two years ago to change staffs and update the library of sounds. One can tell that he has taken advantage of the time between one album and another. Without abandoning the boom bap pulse that drives the plasma in his circulatory tract –fat, resonant drums, hard low notes, pasty claps– the producer settled in Brooklyn notably refines his modus operandi, greatly extending the reach of his music. He is still himself, but avoiding the abuse of video console synthesizers, choosing a more suggestive, less pop melodic treatment, entirely avoiding any sign of the dance floor, playing at being a grown-up.Lindgren not only adds a flood of nuances to his musical universe, he also manages to make the sheet music to “Skulltaste” look outdated, like a hurried outline, unfinished. The funkoid turn towards summery psychedelic beaches works for him. He nails the 80s synthesizers in “Palace Chalice” and the disco-funk touches in “Cash For Gold.” He gets away with spewing free jazz and black sounds in the tremendous “The Butterfly Technique,” putting Jake Slazenger and DJ Shadow into the same pot. We could say that “ Planet High School ” is a graduation album, and student Mool can throw his cap up in the air fearlessly. Because this time, to his more orthodox beatmaking –the break and winding loop of “Brothers,” for example– he adds experiments in IDM format (disquieting synthesizers in “Ruin Everything”); brutal steps toward galactic dubstep with a Detroit-ish sensibility ( “Raw Gore”); and even digital ballads that become uncontrollable drum’n’bass attacks ( “Live At 7- 11” ). I am not going to ask any more of one of my favourite Stakhanovites of beat: at times, stonecutters chisel out better silhouettes in limestone than sculptors.