Mugstar - Ad Marginem - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mugstar - Ad Marginem

by Andy Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2012-07-04

Ad Marginem is a music and film collaboration by two of Liverpool's finest underground rock-acts. Psych-rock adventurers Mugstar provide the soundtrack to a film by Liam Yates, who usually spends his time singing in the doom-rock inclined Black Magician. I haven't yet seen the film so unfortunately can't tell you how well this collaboration has worked, although it has to be said it does look good on paper. I can tell you, though, that the 34 minutes of music Mugstar have produced for the project stands as another fine release from these John Peel favourites.

'Rite I' sets the tone for the album with its subtlety slow building drama, the music conjuring up images of Julian Cope-led pagan ceremonies and abandoned cliff tops. The compositions are sparse and repetitive, bringing to mind a more organic sounding Neu! It's not really the kind of music that you'll fall for on first listen; there are no guitar heroics and no vocals to paint a clearer picture for you. Listen closely though and you'll be drawn in; these compositions are subtly thrilling and deeply atmospheric.

The superbly creepy 'The Island - Red' starts off sounding like a cut from the Sunn0))) live album Domkirke before the guitars gradually build in the background and the band slide into an effortless psych-rock groove. The musical reference points are fairly diverse really; the interplay between the bass, drums and guitar on parts of the album actually reminding me of Seventeen Seconds-era The Cure. At other points they bring to mind recent Barn Owl album Lost in the Glare with dense, nocturnal atmospherics and mesmerising drones. The albums tensions give the psych-rock wig out at the end of closing track 'Rite II' an even greater sense of release as the band erupt into life.

The album comes with a copy of the film so you can make up your mind about the end result but purely as a slice of instrumental psych-rock, Ad Marginem ticks all the right boxes. Mugstar should have a 'proper' new LP out before the end of the year but in the meantime you should give Ad Marginem a listen and connect with a little of what I believe Julian Cope would call heathen rock 'n' roll.

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