thu 18/10/2018

CD: Mouse On The Keys - The Flowers of Romance | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mouse On The Keys - The Flowers of Romance

CD: Mouse On The Keys - The Flowers of Romance

Japanese jazz-fusion to blow the cobwebs away

The Mule Musiq family of labels, from Tokyo, is one of the great secret goldmines of the dance music world. The house, disco, techno and ambient music they put out from top worldwide producers can very often be tasteful to the point of innocuousness on the surface but, perhaps in keeping with the Japanese sense of wabi-sabi, when given your time and attention it almost invariably reveals hidden beauty that make their releases ones you can come back to over the years.

This album, however, seems the diametric opposite of their usual approach. It is, more or less, a jazz fusion record, but one that is very much in your face. There are no smooth, drifting, ephemeral textures in evidence, but rather a whole lot of upfront virtuosity and acute-angled rhythms. There are big romantic piano lines leading everything, and electronic processing and production values that feel at times like the fierce avant-drum'n'bass of Squarepusher. It jolts, it judders, it skronks and it clonks, and it certainly feels modern, often aggressively so.

And yet, and yet, this has hidden depths too. Listen to it loud on a crisp system and the subtleties of the Philip Glass patterns running through “Hilbert Dub” or the whispering electronic voices that float through the string quartet of the title track draw you behind the big themes and shiny surfaces and into something where magic is taking place. Make no mistake, this is neither as meditational nor as danceable as the bulk of the Mule catalogue, and you need to be in the mood for its more upfront clatterings – but the more you listen to it, the more it feels like it belongs in their illustrious catalogue.

Overleaf: watch the video for "Leviathan" from The Flowers of Romance

It jolts, it judders, it skronks and it clonks, and it certainly feels modern, often aggressively so

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters