Mutation – The Frankenstein Effect and Error 500

Mutation - album coverA few weeks ago I reviewed the debut album from pop-rock duo Hey!Hello! featuring Victoria Liedtke and Ginger Wildheart and I mentioned the Ginger led project that was released along with it via PledgeMusic, Mutation.

So here is my review of the Mutation double album that is about as different from Hey!Hello! as Ginger Wildheart is ever likely to get.

The pair of CDs are mainly a collaboration between Ginger and Napalm Death’s Shane Embury, but with a host of other musicians joining in as well, ranging from members of Ginger’s touring band to Mark E. Smith via British rockers Hawk Eyes and Japanese noise merchant Merzbow, this creates, as you might expect, one of the most unusual collections of music on offer today.

The Frankenstein Effect album coverThe first disc of the set, The Frankenstein Effect, starts in comparably run of the mill form with pop-rock rubbing shoulders with elements of extreme metal that combine blast beats and shredding guitars with the kind of hooks we expect of Mr. Wildheart.

As the disc moves on however things take a decidedly more abstract form, as genre barriers are not so much broken down as atomized to create something that at various points brings to mind the likes of everything from Deicide to Reuben.

My highlights of the first disc are Friday Night Drugs and Carrion Blue – the former of which really is the first to launch us into full on Mutation territory but keeping a hugely catchy chorus at its centre while the latter, which rounds off the disc, combines everything heard across the other nine tracks and treads the line of total musical schizophrenia in a way that makes it a great song.

Error 500 album coverError 500 is slightly different beast, and beast is certainly the right word.

From the start there is a more industrial feel here with the presence of Merzbow seemingly making its mark in a much more pronounced form which adds an extra layer of extremity to proceedings.

It is here that the collection starts to fall apart on one level as parts of Error 500 become near unlistenable, while other parts veer back to Ginger’s more well-known melodious work, but the two don’t quite sit together as well as on The Frankenstein Effect.

That said there are still highlights, particularly the two tracks featuring Mark E Smith, Mutations and Relentless Confliction, whose voice perfectly suits the music it is put with. Another highlight comes in the form of the final track, Benzo Fury, which brings to mind Atari Teenage Riot or Nine Inch Nails at their most ferocious and, much like Carrion Blue, does a good job of combining the various sounds on the disc into one grand noise.

Ginger Wildheart and Shane Embury
Ginger Wildheart and Shane Embury

While the Mutation project is certainly not for the fainthearted, and is flawed at times, what it does that is always impressive is demonstrate exactly where music and imagination can take you when you have the opportunity to just lay it all out.

With a release of Error 500 coming on Ipecac Records it seems the wider world, beyond Ginger’s PledgeMusic campaign, is set to hear some of this and, while I doubt I will be regularly listening to the whole album very often, if you have an interest in what can be done with music when musicians of different styles get together, it is certainly worth checking out, if you are prepared for a good dose of noise.

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