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), Paul Sears

Latest news

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

U Totem - Strange Attractors – The two instrumentals that open this latest album by U Totem set the stage and tone for the remainder of the music on the album, an artfully crafted avant-garde rock blended with elements of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues