Mute Duo is creating some of the most elemental, progressive music today. Lapse in Passage is undeniable proof of that.
Hailing from Chicago, Mute Duo (A.K.A. Sam Wagster and Skyler Rowe) create sweeping grand soundscapes with a remarkable combination of pedal steel, piano and percussion. Shades of spiritual jazz, post rock and the bare, broken down essentials of country all float about on this record, forming something completely new, daring and monumental.
On tracks like “Canopy Bells,” the steel guitar sways and groans like a huge, slowly advancing tanker, while clattering metallic percussion keeps the song in an ethereal, spontaneous space. These chiming and off-kilter rhythms eventually charge up to a machine gun pace, as a drum kit takes over and the once peaceful pedal steel begins ripping and roaring like a great angered beast. The tension of the duo’s performances rises towards a peak as the song sparks and frays out of control, like their very instruments are about burst into flames, and then the song finally climaxes and fades into an eerie silence.
A great deal of the record feels like if some sort of extra-sensitive antennae was capturing the rhythms of city life and weather patterns, and then transcribing them into sound. The beat of the percussion often seems to mimic the footsteps of rushing pedestrians, the chaos of morning traffic and the pitter-patter of rain drops against window panes. Meanwhile, the deeply reverberating steel swells and coasts like towering cumulonimbus clouds and plummets like a sudden downdraft. Wagster and Rowe’s improvisational abilities must be directly influenced by their surrounding environment. This skill alone must make every live show of theirs utterly breathtaking and unique (get at these guys, tapers!)
If you are a fan of artists like 75 Dollar Bill, Alice Coltrane and Pelt, then Mute Duo may be your new favorite band. Their new record just came out today, so be sure to grab it here and grab it fast!