Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Mould Solo

A Mould Solo

A Mould Solo (2001)


Guitarist/singer/songwriter Bob Mould was initially a member of Hüsker Dü, one of the most influential American bands of the '80s. Hüsker Dü was a post-hardcore punk band that helped define the sound and ideals of alternative rock. After Hüsker Dü broke up, Mould signed a solo contract with Virgin Records in 1988. The following year, he released his first solo album, Workbook, which represented a major shift in sonic direction.


Frustrated with the business operations of major record labels, Mould left Virgin after the release of Black Sheets of Rain; they would later release a compilation of the two albums, Poison Years. Mould then formed an independent record company, SOL (Singles Only Label), which released 45s from new, developing bands as well as cult bands. In 1992, he formed a new trio, Sugar, with bassist David Barbe and drummer Malcolm Travis; the band signed with Rykodisc in the U.S., Creation in the U.K. Sugar's first album, Copper Blue, was released in the fall of 1992 to enthusiastic reviews and became Mould's most successful project to date.

From "Bob Mould Speaks" -- an interview with Tim McMahan:

Tim McMahon: The public seems to be turning away from heavy music and even the media is heralding that rock is dead… again. Is that just a coincidence in terms of your timing?

Bob Mould: I'm not really up on what people are into, I don't follow the press. I can safely say that suburban white-guy guitar grunge rock has been tired since people called it that. And if that's what people are reacting against, then I'm all for it, because it's really not that interesting.

My take on the music business in general: I think there's a real problem happening right now and it's the fact that the whole business has boiled down to a handful of large, multi-national corporations that are struggling to get teen-agers to part with their money in their direction.

There's way too much bad music out there these days. I think people are getting sick of buying music that doesn't mean anything to them. Unfortunately, popular music is being reduced to a backdrop or as an accessory when you're buying clothes at the Gap. It's like a handbag or fingernail polish; music has been reduced to something that's meaningless. It's a real shame, but maybe it needs to be destroyed so those of us who take it seriously can find another way to go about our business. Because the music business as it exists right now is a pretty unattractive proposition.

TM: What, then is the future of rock music?

BM: What I see happening now is the Internet. I think there's going to be a pretty big shift in how consumers connect with and support artists. We're going to see a big, big change happen. The big corporations are really scrambling right now, because there may be only another 10 or 15 years left of shipping CDs around the country in boxes on trucks. It's not gonna last much longer.

I think the reason that big business has been able to control the artists and control the direction of pop culture is because it was controlling the distribution. And once that's taken away from them -- and it's slowly slipping away -- everything's going to change.
The main strength of Mould's songwriting on Black Sheets is his undeniable ability to both create a unique sound that still retains a certain pop sensibility, all without compromising artistic integrity. Songs like "Stop Your Crying" and "One Good Reason" are meaty, catchy and still able to give the listener something new on each listen. Mould's guitar playing is so layered and thick that it's a wonder that more people don't fall to his feet in worship. Regardless, Black Sheets of Rain is a truly deep and sincere record that is just one more reason to give Mould the respect he so richly deserves. Any of fan of either Husker Du or Sugar owes it to himself or herself to include the first two solo albums in a record collection.

From The War Against Silence -- "Black Sheets of Crud" -- a review of Mould's Modulate:

I will never forgive Paul Weller for sacrificing the Jam to the Style Council, but at least that took effort. "180 Rain" sounds like exactly what ACID expects you to be doing after ten minutes, pushing random buttons and groovingly along uncritically, and the fact that it's Bob Mould singing over it, and Bob Mould's name that gets it released as if it's a real song, no more redeems it for me than Todd English could rescue a McFish sandwich by salting it adroitly. This is Bob Mould, I mutter to myself in infuriated amazement. This man wrote "New Day Rising" and "Black Sheets of Rain" and "Hoover Dam"; listening to him reduced to two-finger typing on an idiotically perky iBook (or however this was done) is like enduring repeated aversion-therapy screenings of the end of Charly.

Mould on his song "Beating Heart the Prize" from Nasty Little Man:

“The front part of that song I stole from Avril Lavigne by accident,” Mould chuckles. “I think Green Day stole it too. A chunk of the song is pitched down two octaves and then sped up triple speed. I just sat there in the studio and kept manipulating it and stretching it until I got that weird cauldrony kind of effect. So I laid that sound underneath and then there are these other little sonic bursts that start spiking at you as the song goes along. And then you wonder if he’s going to put a big guitar solo here…”

Mould does lay down that guitar solo -- which winds and slithers and crashes into the song’s chugging, muscular chorus, catches its breath, and erupts anew as the song scales that chorus once again. It’s a stupendous close to a record that simultaneously revisits old haunts and builds new spaces in Mould’s music -- finding solace and strength in both tasks.

Today's image understands that Mould's solos are majestic and chunky -- tumbling on ears like a collapsing wall. Or the riffs rip rapid-fire across the brain like a jet plane spiraling in a crash dive. Either way, something gets destroyed.

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