In any given week, Mutant Sounds will unceremoniously dump a pile of posts containing scanned or photographed album art, breezily-written descriptions, and full-album downloads into its expanding archive of musical rarities from the past four decades. One such occurrence in early June included a Swedish fusion LP from the 70s, “psych-as-psych-qua-psych” Japanese singles, and sub-underground post-industrial comps from mid-80s America. While the material might seem bound together only by its dusty obscurity, it’s also united in its indebtedness to a handful of collectors who’ve united under the Mutant Sound banner.
Eric Lumbleau is perhaps the most systematic of this small group. As a member of the loose Texas-based music collective, Vas Deferens Organization, Lumbleau was already a legend in the Mutant Sounds realm, having been responsible for both a stream of mid-’90 to early-’00 releases (that’s range was nearly as wide as what appears on Mutant Sounds), and a lavish stab at underground taste-making following in the tradition of experimental forefathers Nurse With Wounds, whose infamous “list” VDO one-upped (in quantity, at least), in 1996. With Lumbleau’s assistance, the blog has become a go-to for outsider traditions in music. He recently answered five questions for us over e-mail.
Why do we need Mutant Sounds?
Our archeological dig of a blog is there to provide an alternate history of underground music not presented to you by the paragons of indie media on one side and the arbiters of the avant garde at Wire Magazine on the other. One that doesn’t subscribe to the reductionist line of horseshit wherein a whole era of adventurous music is written off with the hoary old prog dinosaur cliché. One that is aimed at those that see no contradiction in adoring doinky synth-pop, Beef-Heartian art damage, and symphonic prog. One that is aimed at the heads.
About two years ago Mutant Sounds founder Jim Bull got “thrown away” from a [shitty] blog called Lost in Tyme and began Mutant Sounds as a home for all the posts he’d already created there. What was the beef? And how did you subsequently become involved?
I never particularly thought to probe Jim about his falling out with Lost In Tyme, though “thrown out” certainly makes it sound as though the parting of company was acrimonious enough! My involvement with Mutant Sounds came about purely as a concerned fan of the blog when it was in its nascent stages. I’d caught wind of Jim’s activities during his first month of posting back in January of ’07 and was so excited that when he shortly thereafter threatened to kill the blog after a flame war or two on the comment boards, I popped up mentioning that I was a member of Vas Deferens Organization (a band that it turns out that Jim was a big fan of), stating my admiration and offering whatever services I could help provide, if he’d consider changing his mind. So Jim was offering me an open door to the blog to act as a full contributor and it simply snowballed from there.
Your disclaimer: “The albums are for promotional and preview purposes only. Make sure to delete them within 24 hours If you like an album. . .” Does this mean you’re beholden to contemporary debates about digital ownership?
No. It means that we’re simply covering our ass.
Are you less interested in music that doesn’t fit into the parameters you set for Mutant Sounds?
No, I’m not less interested. As an active experimental musician, I’m fully engaged in it, but lots of other blogs have the current landscape well-covered. I’m fine with us being a niche market.
What blogs do you check regularly?