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Double Negative by The Muffins

Proven bands embarking upon the comeback trail often leave much of its best work behind. Some groups reform for money, or simply to extend previous applied concepts, and in many instances, to merely rehash the past. It’s fairly evident with this latest studio set by the legendary, ‘70s, and early ‘80s avant-rock band "The Muffins," that there are first-rate intentions underscoring this project. With remembrances of the old Canterbury prog-rock scene coupled with unlikely diversions, the quartet enacts the jazz element with ex-Sun Ra Arkestra saxophonists, Marhsall Allen and Knoel Scott.

The grit factor here resides within the steely edged sax parts coupled with layered electronic keys and pumping rhythms. The core band instills a few veering movements to complement various off-kilter diversions. Ultimately, the core quartet sustains a clearly identifiable musical persona. And they always have, regardless of slight variations in compositional style, when considering the band’s muse on a per album basis. There are a few heavy-handed King Crimson style choruses amid multi-instrumentalist, Dave Newhouse’s whimsical flute parts and drummer Paul Sears’ succinct backbeats.

The core ensemble and horns section quotes the classic motif from the ‘60s TV drama, Peter Gunn during the high-impact jazz/rock opus titled "Exquisite Corpse." And on "Dawning Star," you’ll hear electronically tinged flutes, expansive organ-based etudes and mystical themes. They even strike up notions of the fabled British prog-rock band, "Hatfield and the North," complete with Newhouse’s shady synth lines, on the powerful yet spacious work, "Angel From Lebanon."

The recording clocks in at nearly eighty minutes in length, as these seventeen compositions are sort of interspersed like tree limbs sharing the same trunk. So, one or two initial spins will not divulge all of the goodness presented throughout. With that, "The Muffins," magnetize years of experience featuring the finer elements of the past with a nouveau stance that offers a new latitude of execution.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Muffins
  • CD Title: Double Negative
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Cuneiform Records
  • Musicians: Thomas Scott (sax, flute, clarinets, keyboards, percussion & programming), Dave Newhouse (keyboards, sax, bass clarinet, flute & flarinette), Billy Swan (bass & acoustic guitar), PAul Sears (drums & electric guitar)- With: Marshall Allen (alto sax), Knoel Scott (alto & baritone sax), Doug Elliot (trombone), Amy Taylor (violin), Kristin Snyder (viola), Laura Dent (cello), Okorie Johnson (cello)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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