Tuesday, August 23, 2005

SOUNDPOST: 001 MUSE

Three-piece Muse hail from the blinding lights of Devon, The trio consists of Matt Bellamy (centre) (guitar, piano, vocals) Chris Wolstenholme (right) (bass) and Dominic Howard (left) (drums). They have four albums; Showbiz (1999), Origins of Symmetry (2001), Hullabaloo (2002), Absolution (2003)



The early incarnations of Muse saw the group playing to teenagers as the group "Rocket Baby Dolls" in the mid 1990s winning critical acclaim. Under the guise of Muse they released a self-titled EP in 1998. The second EP "Muscle Museum" gave the band their much-deserved breakthrough.

Muse have a very distinctive sound; the type of sound instantly recognisable upon cranking up a radio. This it is due to the frequent use of vibrato by lead singer Matt. But this is what I love about this group; they don't sound mainstream or like any other act. Suggestions for “Muse’s Muse” include grunge heroes "Nirvana" and the eclectic "Radiohead". I personally can see more of a Radiohead link especially after listening to tracks off their album "OK Computer" (Think Paranoid Android) and the eerie sound of "Everything in its Right Place" from "Kid A". Anyways, I digress, back to Muse.

Originality is one thing that Muse have in abundance. Take the band’s instruments; all custom by Devonshire guitar maker Manson. Matt Bellamy’s infamous “Mattocaster” is a guitar like no other, including equipment such as high quality pickups, a trem and a magnetic strip, all of which help produce the band’s distinctive sound. A guitar us regular players can only dream of.

Muse's debut album Showbiz has a cult following, especially in France where the group became extremely popular (possibly more popular than in the UK). The most memorable track of this album is easily "Sunburn" (even my old Geography teacher is a big fan of this record). It combines a bombastic array of arpeggios with a fantastic use of tremolo picking during the chorus.

It was in 2001 that Muse really hit the big time. The release of "Origins of Symmetry" got spectacular reviews (spectacular in that they ranged from 10/10 to 1/10!) One of Matt's influences is classical pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff; this is most marked on a personal favourite on the album; "Bliss". With tracks such as "Plug in Baby" (easily their most famous record), New Born and a distinctive cover of Nina Samone's "Feeling Good", its no wonder that many Muse fans (myself included) regard this as their strongest album out of the four. However, a dispute with their record company meant that this musical masterpiece has not released in America. A loss for all the Yanks I suppose.

Muse released "Hullabaloo" in 2002. It contains a mix of B Sides and other rare material. The album is a double disc, the latter providing listeners to sample the true forte of the band; their live performances. A performance from the Zenith in Paris

2003 was the year when Muse’s fame reached its current pinnacle, with the release of their third studio album “Absolution”. The general theme of this album is the apocalypse; one NME journalist referred to Absolution as “the soundtrack to the end of the world”. The first single released from the album “Time is Running Out” is Muse’s biggest hit to date, reaching #7 in the “UK Singles Chart” in September 2003. Other standout tracks include the fantastic rock anthem “Hysteria” and “Stockholm Syndrome”; both of which are considered to be Muse classics.

Muse’s reputation as a fantastic live act was cemented by their biggest gig thus far; headlining the “Pyramid Stage” with a vintage performance at Glastonbury in 2004. This euphoric performance bristled both power and raw emotion. It’s no surprise therefore that the group won the “Best Live Act” at the 2005 Brit Awards.


What next for Muse? It seems that conquering the "prog-rock" world simply isn’t enough for a band like Muse. Most recently they lent their support to the “Make Poverty History” campaign performing at “Live 8” in July 2005. The band are currently writing their fourth studio album, triggering the release of a plethora of rumoured titles including “cryptology”, "DES", "A Crying Shame" and also "Church Of The Sub Genius". Interviews with the lead singer suggest that this LP will have a much more upbeat theme than both “Origins of Symmetry” and “Absolution” drawing upon "things like optimism and hope". The album is due for release in April 2006. (ages away!) There is also talk of another live DVD called “Manic Depression” taken from the December 2004 performance at Earls Court, London, to sit alongside their “Hullabaloo” DVD from the Zenith, Paris.

Expect more bombastic performances, outrageous guitar riffs and more light displays you can shake a stick at, in the very near future. Watch this space.



Discography
Albums
Showbiz (1999)
Origins of Symmetry (2001)
Hullabaloo (2002)
Absolution (2003)

DVD
Hullabaloo (2002)

Links
www.muse.mu Official Site
www.microcuts.net/ Fansite
www.makepovertyhistory.com/ “Free trade” Website

Next month KASABIAN

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