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This is volume 17 of Darla Records' Bliss Out series. I have several volumes in this series, and it is consistently entertaining. The theme is: mellow relaxing tunes. Pretty straightforward i guess, but Darla get some really nice results. And they have been doing this for a few years now, so they seem to know what they are doing.

Mus are a band from Spain. And before we go any further let me just state that i speak no Spanish, and thus have no idea how to pronounce that. Should it be pronounced "muss" or "moose"? I dunno -- take your pick.

Anyway, apparently Mus are a duo consisting of Fran Gayo and Monica Vacas. I am not sure who deos what in the band. Their music consists of delicately whispered vocals layered over mellow keyboard work. The vocals are in Spanish, or actually they are supposedly in some obscure mountain dialect of Spanish, but i honestly can neither confirm nor deny that statement. To add some further depth to their music, there are guest guitarists: Ivan Palacias on the first track, Aguel Inviernu, and Luigi Navarro on that track as well the second one, A Cielu Abiertu.

And yes, this release does in fact have only two tracks. The first one is just over 22 minutes long, while the second clocks in at a restrained 13 minutes. This is pretty typical of the Bliss Out series. I think that the compositions are designed to each fill one side of a vinyl release. Kind of similar to the reason songs by Godspeed You Black Emperor are so long. Plus this theory has the added benefit of being confirmed by the one Bliss Out volume that i do actually own on vinyl.

At any rate, within each of the two songs there is an overall melodic theme, and some "movements". I would compare the structure of this music to classical in that sense. So if you are looking for 4 minute pop tunes, Aida is not going to meet your needs. Then again, who would go looking for 4 minute pop tunes in a series of records labelled Bliss Out anyway?

So let's examine these two pieces, starting with Aguel Inviernu. This tune starts off with a chiming xylophone and light drumming. Eventually a spacey guitar wanders in, adding echoing arpeggios to the mix. Then some formless vocals are added, accompanied by a synthesizer quietly echoing the voice. After about 5 minutes, (during which a lot of melodic interplay has ocurred, mind you), the synthesizer changes.

A cheesey keyboard loop starts up, accompanied by a stronger guitar part. I really like this portion of the song. The keyboard loop has a harsh end: rather than smoothly flowing, every so often you hear the sound of the keyboard (or synthesizer, or whatever made the sound) shutting off. Then the loop starts up again. It's a nifty little effect, but i think it would get really annoying if it was so loud as to dominate the proceedings, or if it went on for a long time. It only goes on for about 4 minutes, which is nothing when compared to the overall sweep of the song.

After the looping is done, the whole song suddenlty just fades out. This is about 12 minutes into the piece. The keyboard part faintly picks out the main melody, and the voice is there, barely whispering. This is a simply beautiful transition, done in the sparsest of minimalist style. After 7 more minutes, the guitar picks up the melody from the keyboards. Again, a very lovely moment.

Pause while you flip the album over, and then A Cielu Abiertu picks up where Aguel Inviernu left off: with the guitar and the voice. After about 5 minutes or so, a tuba joins in. No kidding -- a tuba! And it sounds great. I just love the deep rich tone of a brass instrument, and the tuba's heartfelt bleating is a really nice effect here. What a shamefully underutilized instrument...

After the tuba, A Cielu Abiertu sort of deconstructs the tune back to it's beginning: the guitar fades out, then the keyboard fades into the xylophone, which slowly gets more and more minimal. Eventually, all you are left with is a fading impression of the voice. This song doesn't end so much as fade out gradually.

In general, the music on this release is delicate and quiet. At times the album seems to grow quite for a second or so, but these are more like the ebbs in the general flow of the songs. And all of the sounds are balanced too: no one instrument or element dominates. Instead, all live in a mellow and harmonious balance.

Overall -- stunning. Aida is two great tunes of ambient pop. I am really impressed with this release, and think that anyone who is into Dreampop or Ambient music should check this out. Heck, you can't go wrong with anything in the Bliss Out series, really. And i look forward to more music from Mus.

I wish i knew how to pronounce their name though....

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