I’ve been wanting to review this release since it was first released via PledgeMusic, but after hearing it for the first time I kept finding ways to put off doing it because basically, I couldn’t find the words to do it! I’m not exactly known for being lost for words, even the most challenging reviews I’ve done haven’t taken this long to come about – but The Mutation Project is an absolute beast; a noisy, entirely mental, questionable thrill ride that leaves you thinking “what the fuck did I just listen to?”, and I’m certain that is exactly what Mr Ginger Wildheart wanted from people listening to the project from the beginning.
I first heard of the project via Ginger’s twitter when he was asking people for DJ recommendations and more dance orientated stuff. That caught my attention. Dance project? Really? I wouldn’t put anything past that marvellous man but dance music? hmm, ok, benefit of the doubt, let’s see where this goes. I chucked in some more of my noise favourites like Bong-Ra, The Flashbulb, Matta, Niveau Zero etc and left it at that. What came afterwards was nothing short of warped and twisted genius.
Mutation is made up of two albums – Error 500 and The Frankenstein Project. Now I’m not going to say that Error 500 is easy listening, but it is certainly the easier of the two to wrap your brain around. If you listen to it in sequence (and to be fair, I’m pretty sure it’s the only way you can!) it feels like a descent in to madness. Starting with ‘Bracken’ which is probably the most accessible track and ending with ‘The Frankenstein Project’s ‘Carrion Blue’ speed metal (it’s the best description I’ve got!) you’ll be left exhausted and mesmerised in equal measure. Confused, almost certainly, but once you’ve shaken that off you’ll be back for a repeat play, and the more you listen, the more you get out of it. Listening to ‘Protein’ earlier on today I could have sworn that some of the riffs bore a resemblance to some riffs from The Wildhearts ‘Fishing for Luckies’ which I didn’t hear on first listen as I was determined to hear where Merzbow came in. Oh yeah. You read that right. Merzbow and Ginger Wildheart working together! As a noise fan and a fan of Ginger’s music in various incarnations since I was 14 years old, this was like all my Christmases had come at once. My love of rock music and noise music finally coming together in a satisfying noisy racket. I think I was meant to love this project from the beginning because it is so dismissive of genre. It is hard to lump in as just rock music, or noise, or metal – it takes elements of so much to create something unique. Yes, there are tracks which could be fairly straight up metal, but then some big soaring, musical chorus kicks in, for example in ‘Sun of White Leg’. It gets you to a point where you think you might have figured it out, and then goes and changes course completely. Having mentioned guest artists, I have to say it was a stroke of brilliance to get Mark E Smith of The Fall involved. His vocals are brilliant on ‘Mutations’, and he’s not the only guest artist: you’ve got Shane Embury from Napalm Death, Hawk Eyes, Dom from OAF, Tom Spencer of The Yo Yo’s/The Loyalties, and numerous others alongside regularly appearing guest musicians in Ginger’s band like Chris Catalyst (Eureka Machines), Random Jon Poole (The God Damn Whores) and Rich Jones (Amen/The Loyalties). It’s like satan’s very own supergroup 🙂
So what’s so difficult about ‘The Frankenstein Project’? Maybe difficult is the wrong word, but it’s more unhinged. You can hear towards the end of ‘Error 500’ things starting to unravel in to a cacophony that won’t just scare the neighbours but perhaps get them to call out the police – Luckily for me I’ve managed to play the Mutation tracks when my world music loving neighbour upstairs has been out of the flat – goodness knows what he would make of it, although he didn’t complain through the week where I kept playing Throbbing Gristle, I digress though….
‘Powderland’ is something of a false start in the best possible way. It’s ballsy, loud and has some of Ginger’s sing-along anthemic feel to it – it’d be amazing in a mosh pit, put it that way, ‘Rats’ follows in a fairly similar vein, lots of huge guitars and vocals but from here on in it all gets a bit weird. ‘Friday Night Drugs’ is all shouting that could make some hardcore bands wet themselves, only to suddenly break in to an overly sweet chorus. I’m sure others would disagree with me, but the first time I heard that track when the chorus kicked in it was all very much “where did that come from?”. ‘Gruntwhore’ well….erm….goddamn it, it’s filthy. It also makes me feel like my brain is collapsing, and it actually loves it. ‘On Poking Dogs’ wouldn’t be lost on a Fantomas album – ooh, speaking of which, that would be a collaboration there wouldn’t be enough clean pants in the world for. Back to ‘Carrion Blue’ the chorus goes ‘Carrion Blue is so fucked up, we don’t even know how fucked up we are’ – I think that could basically be the tagline for the entire project. Mutation is fucked up. Beautifully so. The fact I’ve managed to get this many words down so far to describe the project surprises even me, because it is so hard to describe. I love it, that I do know. Some of my friends are not so passionate about it, it’s certainly brought about some interesting conversations. What I can recommend to do is go and buy it from PledgeMusic and listen to it yourself. If you’re a fan of any of the collaborators on the project, you WILL get something out of it; be it an orgasmic state or a headache that makes you want to neck several beers afterwards – it’s a pretty unforgettable trip.