The Mute Gods is the freshly minted project featuring a strong line-up of seasoned musicians from within the progressive music scene. Debut album Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me finds the trio of Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett), Roger King (Steve Hackett) and drummer Marco Minneman (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, The Aristocrats), crafting a smooth and sophisticated progressive rock album with touches of alt pop-rock accessibility. Brooding, classy prog with a classic vibe yet distinctly contemporary feel, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me is smeared with the crafty fingertips of experience. Flawless musicianship, flowing compositions and lush production impress from the outset, but do The Mute Gods deliver the goods on all accounts and live up to their impressive pedigree?
Frankly, my first few spins of the album were impressive from a certain artistic standpoint but underwhelming on a songwriting level. Sure the keyboard-heavy sound, easy-on-the-ear vocal melodies and interesting arrangements made for a pleasant enough listen, but I guess I was craving something with a bit more edge and flair. Thankfully my feelings towards the bulk of the album have warmed considerably across repeat listens, as I’ll further explain, making it easier to overlook a couple of weaker tracks during the album’s first half. The opening title cut kicks off with a cheesy space-age build-up before unfolding promisingly on the back of Beggs’ smooth and infectious vocal hooks and a driving central groove and melody, leaving a strong first impression.
The poppy, acoustic-driven “Praying To a Mute God” follows, and while it has grown on me, it lacks the payoff punch to elevate it beyond merely solid, although the punctuation of a darkly off-kilter jam towards its conclusion is a winning touch. The first half of the album arguably boasts the more accessible and hookier material, led by the title track and layered subtleties of the rocking “Feed the Trolls.” Sadly, the irritating repetition and too-airy melodies of “Nightschool for Idiots” and goofy (perhaps intentionally so?) lyrics and vocals on “Your Dark Ideas” fail to live up to the song-writing strengths featured throughout the rest of the album. Luckily, the last four tracks compensate for the minor misfires and offer utterly compelling, moody and richly rewarding material, beginning with the slinky grooves and sultry melodies of the sublime instrumental jam, “In the Crosshairs.” Overall Do Nothing Till you Hear From Me is a ‘grower’ in the traditional sense, underwhelming but somehow intriguing on early listens, before it’s myriad of hooks and songwriting quirks gradually unfurl and draw you in.
Although keyboards are often at the forefront, the prominent basslines and subtle guitar melodies each hold their own and fatten up the depth and fullness of The Mute Gods sound. Beggs has a decent set of pipes and plenty of strong melodies to show-off, and while his vocal performance doesn’t always rub me the right way, he generally compliments the music in a positive fashion. The beautiful, emotional vocal harmonizing resonating from the rich psychedelic textures and spaced-out jams of “Strange Relationship” are particular highlights. Aptly titled closer “Father Daughter” features a gorgeous duet between, you guessed it, Beggs and his daughter. Subtle electronics and infectious basslines bubble underneath the full-bodied and alternately melancholy and uplifting ballad, and the inspired vocal trade-off is a real treat. Nifty incorporation of the keyboards and Chapman Stick, along with guest appearances from multi-instrumentalist Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard) and drummer extraordinaire Gary O’Toole, coupled with a superb, audiophile production cap off a fine release.
Despite my initial reservations, the album’s overall quality outweighs the less appealing elements, and at their best The Mute Gods prevail with a quirky spark, offbeat lyrics and playful instrumental prowess. However, while Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me has glimmers of greatness it ultimately falls short of that status due to some uneven songwriting during the album’s first half, taking away from the flat-out brilliant moments that pepper the album’s arty latter movements. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me is a very well written and composed album that’s sure to capture and captivate a wide audience and should definitely be heard by prog aficionados.