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Deft punk
Bob Mould wrestles with his muse
Related Links

Bob Mould's Web site

Mike Miliard reviews Bob Mould's Modulate

The way Bob Mould sees it, people who recognize his name know him from one of four distinct phases of his professional life: as frontman of the seminal Minneapolis punk band Hüsker Dü; as the author of Workbook, a 1989 solo album partly about Hüskerís break-up; as frontman of the mid-í90s hard-pop trio Sugar; and as a consultant for World Championship Wrestling ó or, as he puts it in a fanís voice, "ĎDidnít you write for wrestling?í"

Sitting in his NYC-based publicistís office one rainy afternoon last month, Mould says of his varied reputation, "I think itís great." Still, he concedes that sometimes his résumé can lead to a compartmentalized view of his history. "I even do it when Iím working sometimes. Iím like, ĎOh, this is for this, this is for that.í So I can see why other people would do it. There are always blessings and curses to different things. With a well-documented career, it builds in all this expectation ó thereís these touchstones that are apparent that people wanna grab onto and go to. In 2002 I drove myself nuts putting all those things in compartments. Now itís like, it just is."

Body of Song (Yep Roc), Mouldís new album, just is. In a sense, itís a crystallization of everything heís done to this point (with the possible exception of the wrestling gig). There are the loud rock guitars that attracted punk kids to Hüsker Dü in the í80s, the buoyant melodies that defined Sugar in the í90s, the intimate, scaled-down confessional solo work that bridged the two, and, perhaps most interesting, touches of the electronica heís been dabbling in over the past few years. (He presents a club night called Blowoff in Washington, DC, where he now lives, with his producer pal Richard Morel.) Whatís cool about Body of Song ó especially for listeners who might have found 2002ís largely overlooked Modulate (Granary) a clumsy attempt at the same sort of fusion ó is how comfortable Mould sounds in the eclectic setting. "(Shine Your) Light Love Hope" layers a processed vocal over surging guitars and a live drum beat that ticks with dance-floor precision; think Daft Punk as deft punks.

Which isnít to suggest the album had a comfortable genesis. When in 2002 Mould (who will be touring this fall and has an October 4 date booked at the Paradise) conceived Body of Song ó heíd quit the wrestling work in 2000 with music making in mind ó he envisioned it as the first in a trio of releases, along with Modulate and an electronic disc under the name LoudBomb. In its original incarnation, he says, Body was sparser and more acoustic. He tried to complete the disc a number of times, but it never felt finished. "By the end of the year [2002] I was completely tired of the project. I just wanted nothing to do with it." So he spent 2003 DJing, making bootleg remixes, and writing material with Morel. "I just got totally out of my own space and started working in more of a collaborative environment." Then in 2004, "thatís when it all started to come back to me. Thatís when the bulk of this record made itself apparent. I picked up the guitar again and good stuff started happening."

Mould had met a handful of musicians from DCís robust post-punk scene, including Fugaziís Brendan Canty, who plays drums on the disc. So he returned to Body of Song. "Going back to it, it sounded better than Iíd left it. I was like, ĎOh, it was just my crappy vocal. Iíve sung this song 38 times live since ó I know how to sing it now.í " He says he found the album easier the second time around, thanks to his added facility with the digital recording gear, of which heís become a real champion. "It became the record that I wanted to lead with in í02 because I took away the compartments. Now itís just like, ĎOkay, itís a two-chord rock song. Thereís no reason I canít put the electronic stuff underneath.í It fits and it makes it move. Now it enhances instead of distracts."

Bob Mould | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | October 4 | 617.562.8800

Issue Date: August 5 - 12, 2005
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