Aida (Bliss Out, Volume 17) by Mus (Review)

Aida will gently settle around you like nice, thick blanket, coaxing you to bed but never boring you to sleep.
Aida - Mus

Mus released their self-titled album in 2000. It’s sound was both organic and electronic, focusing on crafting gentle, sleepy little tunes that seemed possessed by the ghosts of both Nick Drake and Seefeel. With that kind of sound, I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised to find out about their contribution to Darla’s fine “Bliss Out” series.

“Aquel Inviernu” wastes no time setting up the mood that will pervade the whole album. Gentle, musicbox-like tones build a sparse melody, while equally sparse guitars and ghostly voices slowly begin to filter in. As it progresses, new variations of the elements slowly wind their way amongst each other, keeping the piece relatively simple but never boring. It’s not until after six or seven minutes that the song settles into a pattern, with female vocals sighing wordlessly over gently pulsing keyboard textures. Eventually, even this gives way to sparse synth tones and gentle male/female vocals singing in Asturian (an obscure Spanish dialect).

“A Cielu Abiertu” forgoes much of the first track’s electronics, instead focusing on piano, acoustic guitar, and vocals (again, I assume, in Asturian). The mood isn’t quite as hallucinatory, or affecting as “Aquel Inviernu“ s. This track is a little more active than its precursor, working in soft horn arrangements that add an almost whimsical flavor to the song. Like the first track, “A Cielu Abiertu” never stays in any one pattern, but keeps evolving. Eventually, the melody from “Aquel Inviernu” reappears, making its ghostly way forward as everything else fades out, neatly bookending Aida.

One thing you’ll never be able to say about Mus is that they overdo it; if anything, it’s easy to wish they might bump it up a notch at times, if only to more fully realize a particular sound or movement within a song. There are times when Aida gets monotonous, but the duo usually knows when to mix in new sounds and slowly ease the old ones out. Any transitions occur as a slow dissolve, blurred to the point of being unrecognizable. Out of this, the song’s new movement slowly begins to assemble, happening so gradually that it’s easy to miss.

You’re not going to be putting on Aida if you want to dance around your room or engage in any serious physical activity. Rather, you’ll put it on in the late night hours, most likely sometime post-midnight. Times when you’re too conscious to sleep, but too far gone to be of much use for anything other than pressing “Play” and sitting back.

At those times, Aida will gently settle around you like nice, thick blanket, coaxing you to bed but never boring you to sleep. And more often that not, you’ll find yourself simply giving in, wishing you’d done so much sooner.