fri 14/05/2021

Album: Alan Vega - Mutator | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Alan Vega - Mutator

Album: Alan Vega - Mutator

Ex-Suicide frontman’s posthumous solo album is a sublime blast

Electro-punk magnificence

If there’s someone who could claim to have proved Arnold Schoenberg’s pithy phrase “If it is art, it is not for all” it was Alan Vega. His and Martin Rev’s abrasive synth-punk duo, Suicide were famously detested by fans of the Clash, one of whom even threw an axe at him on stage when they supported Strummer’s more straightforward punk rockers in the late 70s.

If there’s someone who could claim to have proved Arnold Schoenberg’s pithy phrase “If it is art, it is not for all” it was Alan Vega. His and Martin Rev’s abrasive synth-punk duo, Suicide were famously detested by fans of the Clash, one of whom even threw an axe at him on stage when they supported Strummer’s more straightforward punk rockers in the late 70s. Yet, he was also worshipped by the Sisters of Mercy, Andy Weatherall and, somewhat surprisingly, Bruce Springsteen, among plenty of others. In fact, Suicide may even rival the Velvet Underground as largely ignored prophets of a new way of making music when they were actually doing so, but whose influence went stratospheric soon after they first split. That said, even when Vega and Rev reformed in the late 80s they didn’t exactly become chart regulars.

Alan Vega died in his sleep in 2016, which would have seemed an unlikely fate at more than one point in his lifetime, and Mutator was actually recorded in the mid-90s. But quite why it wasn’t released at that time is anyone’s guess, because it’s way more special than the usual albums of offcuts, covers, demos and rejects that find their way to market when a musician dies with unreleased tunes still in the vault.

Recorded with his wife and post-Suicide musical collaborator Liz Lamere, Mutator is a minimalist electronic tour de force, which echoes Suicide’s glory years, with droning synthesisers, rattling drum machines and free-form, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, that are more often spoken or intoned than sung. From the claustrophobic “Trinity” and the trippy electro-funk of “Fist” to the swirling and disorientating “Psalm 68”, this album makes it clear that Vega’s spirit continued to shine brightly after the Suicide years and leaves the listener in no doubt as to why Vega was and remains such an influence for so many synth-wielding outsiders.

Mutator is a minimalist electronic tour de force, which echoes Suicide’s glory years

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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