Georgia Anne Muldrow makes timeless synth-driven experiments on Vweto III | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Georgia Anne Muldrow makes timeless synth-driven experiments on Vweto III

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Stevie Wonder’s personal archives are reputedly filled with decades of homemade demos and jam sessions that have never been released. If I had to guess what they sound like, I’d say some of them probably have a lot in common with the new album from Georgia Anne Muldrow. The Los Angeles singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist is a true original, operating across genre boundaries in soul, rap, jazz, R&B, and elsewhere, and Vweto III recalls Wonder’s early-70s experiments with Moogs and other analog synths. Just like Stevie, she isn’t just making noise, even though her music is so far-out that it feels like instrumental funk from the planet Pluto—and I mean that as a compliment. Its unorthodox sensibility owes a debt to Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, which seems even more appropriate when you learn that one of Muldrow’s early mentors was Mothers keyboardist Don Preston, who played with the band in the 60s and 70s. Aside from the occasional guest vocal, Muldrow performed, recorded, and produced everything on Vweto III herself. Some synth-heavy music immediately evokes the era in which it was created, but Vweto III has a heart that will still sound brand-new in 15 years. Funky rhythms coexist with sci-fi keyboards, and tracks such as “Boom Bap Is My Homegirl” provide a reminder that avant-garde music can have hooks. What sounds like a squealing psychedelic guitar makes its presence known on “Grungepiece,” though it’s hard to be sure—Muldrow’s production style blurs the lines between instruments and their digital re-creations. An atonal keyboard riff builds the foundation of “Ghostride 21716,” and a psychotic piano figure repeats itself in “Slow Drag.” If you’ve ever wished your favorite risk-taking musical pioneers would’ve followed their most eccentric impulses and just let themselves go, Vweto III might be just what the doctor ordered.   v

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