Comedy in music doesn’t have the credibility that it receives in other mediums like film. Which is a shame as there’s a real skill to creating something funny in a medium where repeat listening is a key element of the form.
Neil Cicierega has managed to achieve this on his new album Mouth Moods. Which joyously remixes and mashes up tracks that should have no place together to great comic effect. His key influence for sampling is not a dusty collection of vinyl but the meme centric world of anonymous internet forums. Songs and soundbites from all levels of taste and credibility are treated with the same reverence. With an overarching goal to surprise and entertain the listener. He does this with a style and a skill that could only come from talent and experience.
It results in a work that leaves me grinning from ear to ear throughout its playtime, as Neil throws track after track of songs that shouldn’t work together and create something that does. This overloading barrage on the senses often results in giddiness and raucous laughter from the listener. Not just myself but the many people I have played it to. The detail and care that has gone into squeezing every last joke possible out of its playtime leads to multiple layers of comedy that continue to deliver on repeat listens. The reference to the Beatles song Revolution #9 is a personal highlight for me but I don’t want to spoil it for you.
It’s also willing to go into the realms of the surreal and silly with songs like Tiger which goes for a simple and quite stupid joke that can’t help but raise a laugh. Survivors song Eye of the Tiger is chopped up and turned into a song about a man taking his tiger for a walk And the song Bustin will never make you think about the ghost busters theme tune in the same way again. It’s these things that highlight the silliness of the source material but with an enthusiasm and love that’s never condescending but a celebration of music and how it affects people.
It’s this toying with expectations of our proustian memories of music that have always made sampling so interesting if this had been done to dramatic rather than comedic effect Mouth Moods would be considered in the same light as seminal albums of the genre. At some moments it surpasses them by being funny and also poignant. This especially happens on my TOTW T.I.M.E where the YMCA is mixed with Hans Zimmers TIME from the inception soundtrack.
At first it comes across as a great joke. The powerful string melodies rich in a serious grandeur are almost ridiculed by the brash vocals smothered in reverb. But as the music builds with the words, you accept the world the song has put you in. By half way through the symbiosis of the two tracks results in a strong emotional power that shows the lyrics of the YMCA to be about struggle in adversity a sentiment that is easily lost to on the disco beat of the original. By the end you are left with a weird collection of emotions as you struggle to come to terms with the fact that the track is ridiculous and yet could be interpreted as deadly serious or even political. T.I.M.E along with the rest of mouth moods manages to play with music to such an extent it forces me to analyse all genre of music further than I have before. It challenges our perceptions of what music is and why it makes us feel the way we do and like all of my favourite albums it gives back as much as you put into it.
T.I.M.E may be a strong track in its own right but Mouth Moods could be making it into my end of year list. I recommend anyone download it from Neil Cicieregas site.