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Various Artists
Mute: A Hush Records Sampler


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Buy it at Insound!

You can't get a better-conceived compilation than the comps from Hush, a record label run by artist/musician Chad Crouch. Mute, their fourth compilation, helps highlight the most prevalent strength of the bands on this label: the music. Despite Hush's artists having earned comparisons to Paul Simon (Chad Crouch) and the Cowboy Junkies (Corrina Repp), it's not the words you tend to remember (not even in a Ben Barnett break-up song), but the emotions that their songs shake through you.

On Mute, this ranges from the absolutely ecstatic (Boy Crazy's "Wistful" and E Vax's "Playground") to music which could have made an Ingmar Bergman western go through the roof (Tracker's beautifully moody "Nova"). One moment you can find Pete Miser one-upping the French band Air with "Endure", a theme song for a future "retro" crime-caper series; the next moment, Chad Crouch provides "Lefthanded", a soundscape that puts you in Brazil, at a frog-infested pond, next to a classical guitarist and an electronic beatbox. The colors run through this song as through Crouch's more amazing paintings, flooding the music with multi-layered emotion.

With a beautiful concerto by the Brother Egg and a stunning chant into the sunset by Wow and Flutter, Mute might well be one of the most important records that singer-songwriters, and their fans, could get. It shows how far music can take your words, and how often one's words -- no matter how I desired them in Jeff London's hymn, "Later On" -- are misperceived as the instrument which makes a song move you. Designed like a booklet of matches (And with more than a passing resemblance to Mute Records' output -- Ed), this hefty 70-minute CD will burn long and hard within you, making its modest price something of a miracle for consumers. Buy it and believe in the future of anti-rock.

-- Theodore Defosse

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