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Zebra Mu - Live Malfunctions [Self Release - 2012]

Live Malfunctions is a live 3Ē CD-R, self-released by U.K. based noise project Zebra Mu. For those unfamiliar, Zebra Mu is the moniker of multi-media artist Michael Ridge, also known as the head cheese of the experimental/noise label Quagga Curious Sounds. I confess, Iíve come across the name Zebra Mu several times in the noise blogosphere and probably own a release or 2 of his, but I canít quite remember if Iíve ever given the project a fair spin. I guess itís the occupational hazard of being a reviewer.

Being a sucker for packaging aesthetics, I have to admit this wee little 3Ē CD-r is quite an adorable fellow. The cover has nice clean graphics of Greco-Roman heads along with other random pictures on recycled kraft paper. Included inside is a small insert and a live photo. The disc itself is hand-stamped with an owl and project initials. According to the insert, this CD-r is limited to 26 pieces. As expected, his website confirms this release is long out of print. You snooze, you lose!

Live Mutations documents an entire 13 minute set, recorded in 2011. Itís made up of a contact micíed springboard that vascilates between harsh noise metal abuse and dronier passages, often fading in and out of volume. The piece starts out with various repetitious and echoing metal bang and clangs. Some of it sounds like industrial machinery chugging and cranking along. The trackís mid-section is straight up harsh noise caucophy with plenty of fits and starts, stuttering, static blasts, and low end rumblings. The last third of the track introduces some chain rattling, fuzzed out static wash, and some high end feedback riding the waves of jagged crackle and crumble. Itís all over and done with pretty quickly. Despite inconsistent peaks and valleys with the volume, the piece flows really well and seems rather focused in itís execution. Not bad, not bad at all.

While I tend to not be overly enamored by live releases, however Live Mutations manages to effectively capture the spirit of the moment. While I would never base my opinion of a performer solely on the basis of a short live recording, I must say that my interest is piqued.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Hal Harmon
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