2004 saw the debut of one of the most promising new acts in the Christian music scene. The demise of rock band Earthsuit gave birth to Mute Math, a then-three piece alternative act that brilliantly blended electronic and ambient elements with pop hooks and meaningful lyrics. Their debut project, Reset EP, was a slim but tight collection of seven tracks (with two being instrumental), seizing the attention of thousands of new fans and helping create an underground buzz that would soon prove itself to be a force to be reckoned with.
In 2005, the much anticipated and promised full-length follow up never made its Summer release and fans only became hungrier for a debut LP. What most didn't know was the band's discontent for the way things were going. Mute Math's intentions for the Reset EP were different, with hopes for greater mainstream distribution. Instead, the Christian market moved faster on the EP than the mainstream, and before they knew it, Mute Math was, against their desire, tagged a "Christian band." Frustrated, the band has finally had the LP pressed, but is only making it available at live shows, with no intentions of releasing it to the Christian market.
So, Christian music listeners in large numbers are still wondering, and rightfully so, what is the band's debut LP like anyway? Keeping in mind that Mute Math, which remains made up of members who share our faith, does not want to be labeled a "Christian band" so to speak, how does their self-titled full length album compare to the EP?
Mute Math opens with a signature drum-driven intro entitled "Collapse," before breaking into the U2-esque "Typical." From the album's start, a more raw sound is noticeable. The production is a little less polished and bears a little more of a "live" feel. In fact, at times, it almost sounds like a different band entirely. More U2 and even Police influences can be drawn throughout the album's duration, with a distinct absence for the ambience the EP introduced.
A harmonic interlude entitled "After We Have Left Our Homes," precedes the stellar "Chaos," a song that could be heard live about as long as the band has been around but hadn't been available in recorded form until now. Melodic pop follows in the form of the ambiguously spiritual "Noticed," and the anti-worldly anthem "Without It." Another highlight, the synth-kissed "Stare At The Sun" is sandwiched between two modest instrumental tracks, "Polite" and "Obsolete," with the latter being the more memorable of the two. The EP contained the incredible techno-fueled title track that remains a live show highlight for the band's set, and each instrumental offering on Mute Math pales in comparison.
"Break The Same" is a synth-heavy rock track that fairs better live, being somewhat tainted by distracting background effects, but is a nice addition to the album's track list. The album winds down with the soft "You Are Mine," which is somewhat reminiscent to the EP's "OK," and the synth-driven love song "Picture," before coming to a strong finish with the serenading declaration "Stall Out."
Comparing Reset with Mute Math is tricky. Reset is a leaner offering with each track adding to the diverse and impressive abbreviated package, while the band may seemingly bite off a bit more than they can chew for some of Mute Math. On its own, however, Mute Math is still an impressive alt rock album with a lot to offer. Too bad the only way any fan can get it right now is at the band's live show or online at Zambooie. And even if the band intends to leave the Christian market behind, their beliefs shine through their music, if even just subtly, making Mute Math still a relevant and redeeming mainstream listen.-- Review date: 2/21/06, written by John DiBiase
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