Gig & CD Review: Muma & Third Party Returns – A Musical Evolution
I’ve been meaning to get this one out for a while but it’s been a bit hectic. I mean here I am in 2012 doing the write up for a gig from 2011. I would normally skip it altogether but we don’t get Muma & Third Party playing that often lately so here comes.
I had been waiting a long time for this gig where Muma & Third Party, latest incarnation, come up to Beijing and give us the goods they’ve been working on for a few years. It’s pretty much a whole new band with new dynamics,
even between the only two remaining members who are Muma himself and Mico ( I stand corrected on the original members). Yugong was decently full for the occasion despite it being a cold december wednesday evening. The place was decked out with floating banners that reflected a matrix-esque random pattern of numbers.
The band is all grown up, wiser and quite dark… The voice still sets the tone for everything else around but now, the music follows and matches. it tiptoeing a line between industrial and gothic sounds, very much along the lines of NIN and Joy Division… heck, i might be able to argue if i cared enough that that particular wednesday, MTP did Joy Division better than Joy Division on some songs.
The concert lasted almost 2 hours with the band going through some classics. I especially liked the reworked, more organic version of “feifei run” that had the audience singing aloud along. It worked amazingly well with Muma on vocals and Guan Wei (who’s not bad) on acoustic guitar, I mean that’s the Muma I love, making use of his most powerful instrument: his voice! and make no mistake, that voice is freaking good! Not to mention his style is just as intense as ever…
The new stuff got a bit of a humho reception with the audience just not expecting the extra effects and all that industrial noise added. Neither did I… One exception was the song 纳迪 (Nadi) which had that slow grind groove going for it and had Miserable Faith’s Gao Hu helping out on vocals.
As an example, 无可救药 (Hopeless) sounds much better on the record than live: Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy’s voice and I’m a big fan of the music on the new record but they’re not always on sync… he’s pretty much singing at the same tempo no matter how fast or how slow the song is and that just doesn’t work. On another note,Gao Yufeng, of Brain Failure fame, is really proving to be one of the better Bass players in China right now… I’m digging him onstage.
Evolution ( THe new record) is definitely a big departure from the previous release, Velvet Highway, which i still consider the band’s better work… a beautiful dark, fascinating and powerful record. While Muma himself is still the main creative source of the band, you can’t help but notice that the other players have also made some marks on the music, especially Mico, as evidenced by some of the live stuff. I expected better out of the record but I liked the live show!
Here is the live version of feifeirun from that evening… good for chills down a spine:
This version of Third Party has some really good growth potential IMHO and Muma himself has grown wiser by the sounds of things. The Evolution is underway (pun intended)… It really feels like this is a band playing and doing things as opposed to one lead singer and his hired guns… and that’s not bad!
Let’s hope we don’t have to wait almost 4 years for the next CD.