Bill Mumy — The Landlord or the Guest
(Global Recording Artists, 2007, CD)
Bill Mumy — Carnival Sky
(Global Recording Artists, 2009, CD)
Bill Mumy — Speechless
(Global Recording Artists, 2009, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2010-07-01
If his name sounds a little familiar, it may be because many will remember him from his appearance on numerous television shows going all the way back to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Lost in Space. Others may remember him as half of Barnes & Barnes, whose novelty song “Fish Heads” made a big splash on the Doctor Demento show many years ago. For the last fifteen years or so Mumy has produced a series of excellent releases showcasing his skills as a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, of which the three at hand – all well-produced do-it-yourself projects, are his latest. On the acoustic guitar-centric The Landlord or the Guest, we have fourteen thoughtful and brilliant songs that aren’t overwhelmed by their accompaniment – Mumy plays an array of acoustic and electric stringed instruments, with occasional keyboards and drums supporting. For the song purists among us, this is probably the one, although its follow-up Carnival Sky is every bit as exceptional, though perhaps a bit more electric and eclectic, with a much stronger blues influence, and a bit more instrumentally gruff – but always strongly melodic. Of his singing and songwriting style in general on both of these releases, one reference point might be the best work of Paul Simon in the 70s but without all of Simon’s reggae and world music trappings.
Speechless is an entirely different matter. An album of twelve instrumental cuts that on the surface (and at the core) bear little resemblance to anything on the other two discs, it seemingly embraces a wider instrumental palette (certainly a lot more keyboards, synths, and treated guitars) and a more deeply introspective feel. More along the lines of the instrumental soundtrack-like symphonic electronic based music one might find on the Spotted Peccary label, this is clearly not rock – although sometimes it does bear elements borrowed from the rock idiom, especially in their propensity for liquid electric guitar solos. Each of these pieces is a self-contained vignette that stretches out in a multitude of different directions, no two the same. Some stronger jazz and classical influences come into play here as well, the latter especially on some of the keyboard driven pieces. All taken, each these three releases offer something different, and all come highly recommended.
Related artist(s): Bill Mumy
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more