If one were to give credence to the concept of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) as a genre, most likely Warp Records would come to mind as a leading force in the dissemination of the music. Less critically heralded, but more consistent and diverse, Mush Records has been putting out electronic and related musics for eight years. Over that time, electronic music has been explored, but also, Mush has given musicians a chance to combine electronically related musics with other genres. The Mystic Chords of Memory, spacey west coast orchestrated pop music, and producer Nobody‘s collaboration for the album Tree Colored See is a good example of meshing two disparate genres.
When the label began putting out eps, Robert Curio and Cindy Roche were based in Ohio. “Cincinnati had a lot of really good musicians at the time,” comments Curio through an e-mail, “Boom Bip, Dosone, and Fat Jon all lived there”. Upon the success of the label’s initial releases, Curio and Roche decided to make releasing albums a full time job. “We do everything,” the e-mail reads, “from single record to multi-record deals”. And while there is a breadth of work to consider, from electronic singles to double disc hip-hop albums like Blue Sky Black Death, Mush strives to produce music that is like no other.
Curio explains, “We like music that sits in between genres and isn’t so easy to classify. Even though we don’t have a specific sound, hopefully our releases hold together by being of high quality and a little bit on the edge of what’s standard.”
This ideology is exemplified by the label’s release by a producer named Daedelus. Denies the Days Demise combines hip-hop style with newer digital cut up techniques that have become popular in electronic music within the last few years. While this particular release hasn’t garnered waves of media attention, what Mush has been doing for music is as important as any other musical outlet. Daedelus, along with other artists who broach hip-hop as well as electronic styles are attempting to push music to do something new. In this particular instance, normal beats are eschewed for a different and often times unsettling bizarre syncopation.
“Cindy is always baffled by the fact people think some of the music is weird that we put out; she grew up listening to a lot of crazy stuff,” Curio mentions, “She always wonders if anyone ever listened to Frank Zappa and some of the music that came out of the 60's. To her it's all really normal and should be mainstream”.
With Zappa being mentioned it seems appropriate to recall that while there are easily millions who enjoy his music, he never really achieved general pop success. Even so, his career spanned decades as he continued to release music up until the time of his death. Much in the same way that Zappa didn’tt depend on radio airplay, the airwaves are not what will sustain Mush on a daily basis.
Mush also has the ability to maintain their singular vision of where music is, where it’s going and what sounds good tomorrow. All of this can easily be achieved as long as the mainstream sources of distribution are by-passed and more independent means of marketing and distribution are utilized. What the survival of Mush and other independent labels like Anticon or Lex depend on is the enlightened listener: one who has the power to determine what is actually useful, tasteful, enjoyable and powerful music.