From passive melodies ala “Variations on Estate” to a quaint harmony around every bend in some of the more rigidly constructed works in this tracklist, Mumex Duo manage to cover all the bases with their new album Heat the Silent, all while promoting a rather minimalistic attitude when it comes to songcraft.
The majority of the songs in Heat the Silent feel like new era standards, with only three tracks serving as the kind of content I expected after listening to Folds of Time, and yet the personality of this music is shaped as wholly as it would be in a record entirely made up of straightforward compositions. This isn’t just because of the passion of the players, but really because of how they approach the material, with a humble sensibility as opposed to something more intellectual in nature. There’s never an instance where they sound like they’re in over their heads, even though this is exceptionally retro territory for the pair in a couple of spots. The contemporary hybridity they work into this LP left me curious to know what they could do with other content of a similarly vintage variety, but moreover, it made me want to listen to the record all over again as soon as I finished it the first time.
Contrast can do a lot to facilitate a theme in any record, and this is certainly true in Heat the Silent. Songs like “When All the People Are Sleeping,” as well as the bold pairing of “Variazioni Senza Fine” and “Beyond the Eighth Door” is driven by a particular aesthetical divide that is brought closer through harmony as opposed to structure, which despite going against the popular trend in indie jazz sounds very smooth and well-meaning here. It’s obvious that fluidity is one of the most important qualities Mumex Duo values in the studio, and this content does nothing but present us with a very streamlined listen that scarcely invites the use of the skip button. Grooves are always huge in Heat the Silent, even when they’re understated in tracks like “Thelonious” or “Joe’s Island” and especially in the likes of “Heat the Silent,” and I get the idea that this act wouldn’t want to convey something to their audience without using every element at their disposal.
I didn’t know a lot about Mumex Duo before listening to their last album before this one, but it’s got my interest since introducing me to this pair’s eccentric take on alternative jazz mundanity. There isn’t any reaching for streamlined straws in this piece, but instead, a sense of personal intimacy between artists and material that I don’t hear very much of in any records these days, let alone those that include so many experimental songs. I wonder what Mumex Duo are like live, and if it’s anything like what we’re getting out of the presentation they’re giving in Heat the Silent, it’s got to be worth a look from anyone who loves provocative independent music. There’s an undisputed lack of originality in the underground at the moment, and it’s quite curious that a band delivering tunes like these is sounding more organic than most anyone in their scene at the moment.