For the last year or so, critics like myself haven’t been able to get enough of Mumex Duo’s work, particularly the dynamic EP Folds of Time – and for good reason. That extended play broke a lot of ground for this band, but beyond that, they gave us a look into a new strain of abrasive jazz that isn’t as tethered to the sounds of the 60s as some of its fusion forerunners have been. This October Mumex Duo are at it again with the aptly-titled Heat the Silent, which expands on the template of their last release whilst moving further to the left of anything this band has made to date.
“Thelonious” and “Heat the Silent” are all about their muscular melodicism, versus “Joe’s Island,” “Beyond the Eight Door” and the closing fireworks of “Variazione Senza Fine,” which are some of the most surreally lithe compositions that I’ve heard in a long time. It’s an artsy mashup of material for sure, but there are no hiccups as Mumex Duo transitions from one song to the next – quite the contrary, actually. All of this content, from the kaleidoscopic “When All the People Are Sleeping” to the Naked City-esque “Variations on ‘Estate’,” meshes perfectly, like jagged puzzle pieces that, when put together the right way, form an opulent portrait.
The instrumentation provides the core mood for songs like “Joe’s Island,” “Heat the Silent” and “Thelonious,” and in many ways flaunts the authenticity of the songwriting in doing so. There’s no augmented plasticity to Heat the Silent, and though the melodies are monolithic more often than not, they don’t appear to have been created through artificial means. Mumex Duo is the real article and in comparison to their mainstream rivals, one of the last legitimately potent jazz units around these days. Anyone who questioned their direction is effectively silenced by this album, and I’m not the only critic saying as much this October.
I thought that the way Mumex Duo mixed the bass track in “Heat the Silent” and “Thelonious” was one of the more applause-worthy moves that they made in Heat the Silent, as it definitely distinguishes where one strand of melody ends and another begins. Though we’re never distracted by its grandeur, the bittersweet tonal presence that conveys most of the narrative in these songs is a force to be reckoned with, and were the additional instrumentation not as powerful in its own right, this might have been a much more tempo-driven record than it is in the state we find it in now.
Those who were foolish enough to question whether or not Mumex Duo could outdo themselves in their follow-up to Folds of Time are in for quite the wakeup call in Heat the Silent, an album that has all the makings of becoming an iconic release for this supremely gifted trio of musicians. There was a lot of hype leading up to its arrival, but I’m happy to report that it wasn’t all talk – songs like “Variations on ‘Estate’,” “Thelonious” and “Variazione Senza Fine” aren’t everyday occurrences in contemporary jazz music, and to call them some of the more refreshing sounds of the fall would be to make an understatement of epic proportions.