Mugstar / Damo Suzuki – Start From Zero (2015)

Mugstar have won. All other psych bands should just go home. Why? Because Mugstar have recorded an album with Damo Suzuki…


It is titled Start From Zero and consists four tracks. Let’s have a look…

“Waken To The Night’ starts the album with the clanking, grinding machinery of noise that we have come to know and love from Mugstar, like the internal workings of Metal Gear Rex (colouhorizon is never, ever above a 1990s Playstation reference). It’s a furious Hawkwind meets the Duracell Bunny rhythm; relentless energy. Damo streams words against this backdrop and it is fascinating to hear him against a more vigorous musical backdrop than he had with CAN, yet the near drum solo past 6 minutes shows that Mugstar come from the same lineage as the krautrock overlords. The words come as thick and fast as the music, making for a white knuckle 13 minutes.

The mysterious foreboding of ‘Subway Sounds’ imagines Closer era Joy Division providing the music for a Nordic crime show. The bass; ten ton footfalls of a stone-spawned monster on the prowl. Glinting shards of ambient shine through an oozing atmosphere. At 4 minutes this is far too fleeting a treat.

‘Innanewah’ rumbles with along like a psychotic, malevolent hoover. Scratchy guitar solidifies here and there. Damo’s vocals are right on the money, no idea what he is singing but he is in commanding position and his interplay with Mugstar’s brand of straight lined space rock is exhilarating. Throughout the album he sounds as invigorated by Mugstar as the Liverpool band sound inspired.

‘Zero Coda’ (click to listen) is sharp edges and frisky beats all the way. Mugstar’s strength is bringing giddy abandon to their music and this encapsulates that perfectly, the music here is as joyous as eating jelly on a bouncy castle. This moulds Damo’s words into an effervescent, fevered day-dream. Wonderfully, his delivery reaches ‘Halleluhwah’ levels of transcendence. By the way, ‘Zero Coda’ goes on for 22 minutes, so yes, the spirit of CAN is alive and well… Travelling deeper and deeper into this epic, the music flows and punches sharper and harder with Damo becoming increasingly possessed and hypnotic. An emblem of enraptured; his shamanic delivery elevates the music further. Together they build a psych feedback loop.

Mugstar and Damo Suzuki? Does this count as Christmas and birthday present combined?

Krautrock legend meets psych royalty to herald a future age… essential.


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