Mux Mool: Planet High School Review
As a music reviewer, the first question someone asks when you suggest an artist is “what do they sound like?” The easiest choice is always to connect the artist or band to another artist or band, but if there isn’t an obvious choice we often choose genres as an entry point to explain groups we like. It is hip hop or chillwave or counutry or post-punk or post-rock or… But what happens when an artist blurs lines between genres, muddying the water and making the writer’s job even more convoluted? This is the case with the eccentric LP Planet High School from Brooklyn via Minneapolis producer Mux Mool.
The songs on Planet High School all feature a richly sublime groove, but take different avenues to reach where they are going. From the opening of Planet High School–the breezy, lackadaisical beat of “Brothers”– to the scuzzy thump of “Raw Gore,” Mux Mool had no interest in making a cookie cutter “instrumental beat” LP. There are tracks that bump, ranging from the smooth boom bat of “Ruin Everything” to the almost Daft Punk esqe “Cash for Gold” and back to the fluttering groove of “Hand on the Scantron,” but the highlights on the album are found outside of that box.
Like Clams Casino, Mux Mool dives into more textural sounds that rely on lush synths and more thought out production than a typical beat tape. Songs like “Palace Chalice” venture almost into the chillwave genre. One of the highlights of the album is the lush “The Butterfly Effect,” which sounds like it could have come right off of the last Toro Y Moi LP, where he gave his dream inducing electronic pop a pill or two of ecstasy. The other standout track is the wobbly, almost jazzy “Live at 7-11,” which shuffles along with a gooey groove and sumptuous melody before breaking down into a soulful electronic funeral march during the last section. It is a crystallized realization of the mish mash of sounds Mux Mool brings on Planet High School boiled down into a five rapturous minutes.
Despite the fact that defining the album is as easy as nailing jello to the wall, Planet High School is a refined and arresting album. Life would be easier for supporters of the artist if you could say “it sounds like Dilla/Madlib/Oh No, etc” or “It is a ambient chillwave record,” but neither of these would do justice to the wide spectrum covered on the LP. Even though I am not sure what section of the record store Planet High School resides in, it is on my current short list for favorite records of the year. The dexterity of the record, being able to get you head bobbing one second and suck you into a colorful and distant ambient synth world the next, is worth more to me than any uniformity could ever provide.