“DD Review: Don Muro – Off We Go: More Synth Pop from 1970-1979.”

Score: 8/10


Today I’ve decided to handle an LP, for basically being sick of general blogosphere obviousness which would theoretically plague someone in my position, of instrumental songs composed in the 1970s, each apparently at different sessions, by a dude (who played all the instruments) who I’ve never heard of in my life. On Off We Go’s Bandcamp page, it denotes the year in which each of these songs was recorded (I’m not sure if this means that each tune actually took a whole year to make, of if this is his Sub Pop-type way of hyping up his music). One thing odd about this project of his, and which makes me think even we advanced-but-still-feeble minds of the 2010’s may not fully absorb its complexity, is that the most avant-garde-sounding foray here, the ironically titled “Blues Tune,” is both the most experimental and also the earliest to date, culling from 1970. Placed second of the album, it begins with this bona fide Cubist-noise segment, of backward snares, synths set to a weird, atonal knob position and a bunch of other crazy stuff, all probably fed through a four-track or whatever was really advanced at the time (I know nothing about this Don Muro dude or his origins). “Blues Tune” then “takes off,” hence representing in a way the title’s suggestion of a journey’s beginning, in rhythm in the form of snares spliced and divided equidistant from each other in approximately 90 bpm 16th notes. Bass synth then takes over the main riff, like Led Zeppelin without the guitar, the jazz or the bluesiness, to then give way to the main, high-pitched Moog which handles the main theme and sets this album’s identity.
Along these lines, these garish, fanfare-approximating sounds of high-pitched synth and organ can in a way get a little annoying, sort of like a Frank Zappa Burnt Weeny Sandwich type of project without the strong organic percussion element. Still, Muro doesn’t dwell in these realms for too long, which is one reason why the LP is successful: indeed, Off We Go lives up to its name by lassoing the listener through a closely juxtaposed bevy of different musical experiences which each seem different from each other in mood and also texture. “Fly” is great funk-rock on which I actually can’t even tell if the drums are organic or programmed — I’m guessing the latter since this is right around when Sly was experimenting with drum machines (one year before the Germans did, yes… how’s that for a WWII victory affirmation). Either way, the method doesn’t get in the way of the madness and with how much fun Muro had apparently belting out these tunes, it’s hard to believe that it took this long for it to come out. It’s sad, but the guy, with all this musical talent, vision and focus, probably just never had the money for enough studio time to put them all together at once, or for vinyl pressing. Indeed, the ’70s aren’t generally known for their indie music. Well, it’s not sad anymore, because now we have this music in our back pocket, music which is undeniably rhythmic, fresh and most importantly, fun.

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