Boundary-dissolving indie label Mush favors the wandering aesthetic. Before settling in Los Angeles, Mush's owners started in Cincinnati and shuttled through three other cities; the label's artists similarly roam all over the map. Since 1999, the imprint has issued a head-spinning array of underground hiphop, idyllectronica, ethno-dubhop, and other odd hybrids awaiting clever coinages. Mush's gold-to-crap ratio has been exceptionally high.
The latest Mush tour manifests the label's genre-crossing philosophy. Her Space Holiday (a.k.a. Marc Bianchi) works in the song-based emotronica realm where Postal Service, Magnetic Fields, and Album Leaf commiserate over synthetic strings, breathily sung self-deprecation, and slack beats. Though HSH's 2003 album, The Young Machines, could be Mush's most popular yet, and is undeniably well-crafted, it doesn't best represent the label's adventurousness.
To check out that adventurousness, listen to Octavius, whose Audio Noir is a masterpiece of brooding downtempo, roiling, doomsday rock, and charred illbient. At a time when there's little about which to be hopeful, Audio Noir persuasively captures a mood of impending doom. The group finds more power in suggestion than in bludgeoning the listener--note the way they subtly commingle a sense of dread with uneasy calm to chilling effect on "Momentum/Parisian War Song."
Daedelus (Alfred Weisberg-Roberts) is Mush's most prolific and eccentric artist--which is saying quite a bit. Bringing an influx of quaint sound sources to hiphop and experimental downtempo, Daedelus makes whimsy funky and funk whimsical. At its best, Daedelus' music is a gently surreal, goofily absurd subversion of hiphop's serious crate-digging, sampladelic aesthetic. It's what DJ Shadow would sound like if he worshipped Spike Jones.