Planet High School
On his previous releases for Moodgadget and then Ghostly, Mux Mool focused on the buzzing, electronic extremes to which trip hop can go. Harsh edges and layers or noise were piled atop the grooves. It was always distinct, arresting and worthy of a listen, but lacked a versatility to take the songs out of the dark corners of the club. Albums played out as collections of individual notions. His sound found ways to stand it out, but there was never a sense of comfort behind the beats.
All that has changed with his second Ghostly LP, Planet High School. Mux Mool now seems completely at ease with his creations and ready to take listeners on a journey through sound that’s at once cohesive and contrasting. No single sound is on display, but common touchstones keep things united throughout with beats hitting with a ringing force that is further emphasized with chimes and bells lingering around the breaks. Like many of the individual tracks, the album follows a path that while easily discernable, still retains a satisfyingly deep variety of styles and influences. The changes phase in naturally with the ups and downs showing up as comfortable surprises.
Things start off with deep, chunky beats and murky melodies on “Brothers” before “Live At 7-11” unleashes harsher breaks as it delineates the build, topple, rebuild things a bit differently cycle that eventually emerges as the album’s overriding theme. By the middle of the set he lets loose his most mesmerizing creation. “The Butterfly Technique” wanders through sample after sample to create far more distinct musical moments than would seem possible, even with its unhurried six-minute runtime. “Hand on the Scranton” brings forth a sly rhythm that seems to walk backwards with a bit of sly funk on top, but sadly, the album version is missing the oddly perfect Steve Miller Band sample that graced early promos, which leaves the song a bit short on excitement. From here on out, the album hits harder with refined versions of the electro breaks of Mux Mool’s past before closer “Baba” carries things off with spacious grooves and restrained rhythms.
By the time the set has run through its 43-minute lifespan, it’s clear Mux Mool hit a stride with these creations. The songs have room to breath. The effects are wielded with a lighter hand. The overall esthetic is curated and refined so no song locks too tightly into itself. Instead his beats grow and change, synthesizing routes to new views of the previously defined scene. This is a disc with massive high points and few low moments. It seems that just when Mux Mool understand High School, it might be time for him to graduate on to something bigger.