Exposé Online banner

The Muffins — Double Negative
(Cuneiform Rune 199, 2004, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2005-03-01

Double Negative Cover art

I suppose any time a band that has been around as long as the Muffins puts out a new album, there’s going to be some disagreement among fans about its merits. Whether they changed too much or too little, people will complain. You can’t please all the people, etc. I’m going to come down on the “love it” side for Double Negative. It has many of the elements present from the beginning of the band’s history: compositions that change drastically during their course, jazzy sax parts, wild non-melodic guitar, repeating rhythmic motifs, a mixture of improvisation and composition. The overall impression here is that the composition side dominates, especially due to the frequent use of guest musicians to augment the core quartet. Strings, trombone, and extra saxes pump up the arrangements to levels beyond what we’ve heard before. There is less Canterbury and a bit more RIO than there used to be; the sound is probably closer to Birdsongs of the Mesozoic than Henry Cow (I always felt the Muffins were kind of like a mutated combination of Henry Cow and National Health). But still, behind the added frills, there are some great tunes with strong individual performances, and I don’t begrudge these guys the chance to stretch their arranging muscles. What is lost in immediacy (compared to something like the remixed tracks on <185>, for example) is gained in a broader palette, and there are plenty of contrasting moments when it drops down to just bass, drums and sax.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 31, 2004 releases

Related artist(s): The Muffins, Dave Newhouse (Manna / Mirage)

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Folli di Dio - Folli di Dio – It sounds like Folli di Dio just missed being on Mellow's Fruit Salad label, as it fits into that most amorphous of genres – neo-psychedelic. Neo-psych is as ambiguous as most genre names...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues