Mutantum - "Sonic Sideshow"
(self-released CDR 2002, um01)

From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)

From the menacing piano notes that open the album onward, Sonic Sideshow is an instrumental treat for the ears and for the mind. Mutantum is Finlandís Mikko Muranen, who has also played in the heavy metal band Dogmeat. A few of the metal influences creep into this project, with the occasional freaked out guitar solo and such, but this is more a melding of rock structures with ambient, industrial, melodic, and experimental sounds.

Some of the highlights include None More Equal, a moody exploration based around the aforementioned menacing piano notes, and Neuphoria, a thrumming ambient workout based on Neu!ís Hallo Gallo (in fact, Muranen gives Rother and Dinger the writing credit, even though he has taken the original piece in different directions). Muranen uses the ruthless, motorik kind of beats Neu! was famous for often in Sonic Sideshow. They push the music into jarring industrial directions, while at the same time Muranenís sense of melody keeps drawing the music back towards something gentler and more tuneful. The continual conflict keeps things interesting throughout the album. Fry Me Up and Light White Load exhibit that exquisite tension to the max, but itís not the only kind of thing served up on Sonic Sideshow. Elsewhere, Muranen delves into psychedelic world beat on Modern Primitive, gothic space music on Behind They Dream Divine, and searing alt-metal freakiness on Genocide a Dayís Work (although even this piece mutates into an almost classical mid-section!).

Sonic Sideshow reveals something new each time you listen to it. Thereís always something more to discover and, as the artist promises in the liner notes, "Mutation has only just begun".

For more information you can visit the Mutantum web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Mikko Muranen; Ruskokuja 2 as. 17; 17200 Vššksy; Finland.

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

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