MUKQS / DJWWWW “Split” (Phinery)

Like trying to ingest a live jaguar in one sitting, it’s a daunting process to digest the recorded finery (see what I did there?) of artists as compelling as Mukqs and DJWWWW, especially when they combine their intense powers for a split release. Mind you, it’s not difficult – especially if you don’t mind a few deep scratch marks on your face (visible scars are a sign of strength and toughness, at least according to all the 1980s action films I watch on repeat) – but you certainly have to buckle yourself in before embarking. At least cassette tapes aren’t as violently squirmy as pissed-off jaguars, otherwise I wouldn’t have much of this beautiful face left. At least this split is as satisfying, psychologically, as a belly stuffed with jaguar would be.

I digress, of course. But I’m not fooling you when I commend this release for filling itself to the absolute brim with exciting and strange and unique compositions. I cannot be more serious when I say “my cup runneth over” with remarkable blessings of musical enlightenment! And hey, you know the players, the ones whose miracle tunes invade your ears on a daily basis: Mukqs has his whole Hausu Mountain/Good Willsmith thing going, while DJWWWW is just … well, DJ-goddamned-WWWW, or at least an alias of DJWWWW. Both are rightly celebrated for doing their experimental-electronic-improv-loopy thing better than mostly everybody else on the planet, and that’s the kind of thing that gets you called up to the big-league labels like Orange Milk, Umor Rex, and Phinery. Gotta have your A-game working to have any sort of sustained success.

Mukqs is the master at live manipulations of loops and tapes, and his side is a great example of synthetic world-building at a macro level. Nothing is reserved, every second is conjured via magic spells from the dust of tangible sound sources, woven via molecular interpretation. Each element bleeds into the next, wavering melodies emerge from the mix and quickly submerge, only to be replaced by something equally as interesting. Can you poke at magic with a stick or examine it under a microscope? That’s the beauty of a Mukqs joint – even if you do, even if you uncover the mechanisms beneath the hood, it’s still magic in the end.

Japanese producer DJWWWW, on the other hand, is a much more tactile explorer, a mad scientist ratcheting up his sonic output to cartoon-like levels. Each track points east and fidgets with its subject material, like Hikari No Wa, “Ramen Power,” and the Tokyo metro system, taking elements of each physical object, person, or location and flinging them into Cuisinart of beats and pulses for maximum pulpage. The result is not dissimilar to that envisioned by Mukqs, but with a decidedly different flavor. If DJWWWW is like a poppier Foodman – if something like that exists, or is possible, or is not even a paradox – then Mukqs is a tape manipulator’s Pink Floyd, and that’s probable even without the admittedly hamfisted comparison.

So take that jaguar out of your mouth, brush off the saliva, pat it on the head, give it something to gnaw, and focus instead on this fabulous split. You’ll be doing yourself and animal lovers everywhere a favor, and you’ll be able to direct your energy to a more appropriate place.

--Ryan Masteller