Neglecting the help of long-time collaborators Flying Lotus and The Gaslamp Killer in favour of recording and mixing alone in his home studio, dub revivalist Gonjasufi's mini LP Mu.Zz.Le continues the artist's search for a Captain Beefheart/Lee 'Scratch' Perry crossover sheltered in darkness. His first release since last year's free EP 9th Inning, Sumach Valentine presents his latest piece of shady electronica in a style straying away from his initial release A Sufi and a Killer. Rather than serve as the conspicuous vocalization over a dubby and at times bombastic beat, this time Valentine's voice is as much a part of the scenery as the fuzz and grime of the guitars and keys.
The dizzying album opener 'White Picket Fence' does not evoke the kind of suburban nostalgia the title alludes to, rather it's hypnotic, bluesy piano loop entrances you into the album and the murky atmosphere it inhabits. 'Feedin' Birds' sets a wraithlike pace over which 'Sufi 'sings' in a familiar style; his voice separate from the ethereal beat. Mid-song he is taken over by a feminine accomplice, one that is as haunting as the melody behind her. As the album progresses, the despondency does not desert you, nor does 'Sufi's idiosyncratic take on this particular style of music. 'Blaksuit' is where the George Clinton comparisons come in, the track sounding like a sluggish Dirty Beaches take on a Parliament/Funkadelic song. The lo-fi jangle of the guitar and 'Sufi's crestfallen howls would not feel out of place in a soundtrack to a harrowing Vietnam film.
As solitary as it may seem at first glance, this is probably Valentine's most sincere release to date and the one closest to home. It was recorded at his abode, surrounded by his family. It is when the album comes closest to being jaunty in the slightest, found in the snare pops of 'Nikels and Dimes' which, along with the accompaniment of a laughing child, (perhaps his own) hints at Gonjasufi the 'family man.' He may sing; "it all depends/how the story ends" yet the youthful guffaw indicates that he is aware of a life before death, and life may not always exist in the same vein as the black and white landscape the majority of his music generates. 'Sufi recently said during an interview for the album; "these words are less but I feel like I am saying more." The pitch shift and infant samples do exactly this.
The San Diegan has crafted an isolated album; played in a large room it could easily become adrift and vacate itself when exposed to a greater audience, yet you can't help but feel that this is done purposely, that he has made this album as an individual, for individual consumption. This could very well be a stylistic change that 'Sufi is content to undertake, relying on his own gloomy, ash-ridden production, constructing an isolated reverberation. The LP may only be short, coming to 24.5 minutes, yet it is a consuming 24 minutes that is capable of drawing the listener into its own desolate realm.