"The finest progressive band that America produced." – Fred Frith
"The Muffins are the most important prog band the US has produced..t.he high quality of the music...should make my contention feasible to anyone with ears." – The Wire [4/23]
Muffins were an American band from the Washington, D.C. area...Their
complex approach wove Canterbury-esque prog, electric fusion, vanguard
jazz, modern classical composition, and free improvisation in a sound
so ambitiously creative, it's difficult to easily categorize." – AllMusic
is an all-too-rare occurrence for a band, throughout its career, to
create music that continually pushes the envelope and transforms the
landscape. It is an even rarer occurrence for such a band to reunite
after a long separation, and embark on a second musical career that
continues to be as innovative as the first.
In 1998, The Muffins reformed with all four members, and it proved to be the genuine article. Double Negative is The Muffins' second studio recording released since reforming and possibly the most ambitious work of their career. Featuring 75 minutes of music spread over 17 songs, Double Negative is The Muffins' most compositionally diverse work, featuring pieces that vary in style and tone greatly, but which are always theirs (although they might fool you for a bit here and there!).
The Muffins have long been noted for the way they craft memorable themes with adventurous musical structures and this is no exception. In addition, it is the band's most instrumentally rich work, featuring an unprecedented number of musical guest appearances. Two principal members of the Sun Ra, Arkestra, Marshall Allen and Knoel Scott, play sax on several tracks, while longtime Muffins contributor, Doug Elliott, contributes excellent trombone parts to half the pieces, and string players also contribute.
In a very happy occurance, all four members of the band (Dave Newhouse-keyboards & reeds, Thomas Frasier Scott-reeds, Billy Swann-bass & guitar and Paul Sears-drums) reformed in 1998 and began developing a new repertoire and performing concerts. In a world glutted with half-baked reformations by bands looking to cash in on past glories, Bandwidth is the genuine article; a reformation of all the original members who who have gotten together not for money, but because they miss what they had done together in the past and who feel that they still have something to say.
Bandwidth is very recognizably the work of The Muffins; you can hear strains of both Manna/Mirage and <185> here, as well as lots of new elements. As we all know, there are very few second chances in life; as the saying goes, "you can't go home again." But we and The Muffins have all been handed another chance with Bandwidth. It really is them and they really are back!
Originally released in 1981, just before the band's demise, <185>
contains some of the last & some of the finest work from the band's
original lifetime, by this amazing live ensemble. The original lp
production downplayed the live aspects of the band, so, in addition to
the original full lp version of <185> as known by all who own the
original Random Radar vinyl version, we have remixed all seven
compositions from the album (not the 3 improvisations) to their
original "live in the studio" origins, and included them as bonus
tracks, allowing you to hear exactly how the band used to sound during
this time period. <185> has their most intricate, R.I.O.-styled
work and it also features the best sonics of any of their albums.
"The Muffins had the instrumentation of a jazz ensemble: woodwinds, piano, bass and drums...They took as models the jazz-rock hybrids of Soft Machine, Henry Cow and Magma, as well as the pioneers who'd inspired them in turn, such as Eric Dolphy and Sun Ra. They were particularly internested in collective improvisation, and ultimately a group vocabulary evolved that not only gave them more range in their compositions, but allowed them to sound cohesive even at their most free... Altogether, this is one of the best records ever to come out of America" – Boston Rock
"The ideal introduction to The Muffins." – Audion
is all previously unreleased performances from 1977-80, by the "classic
quartet" version of the band. Includes an outtake from Manna/Mirage,
excellently recorded live pieces not found elsewhere, their incredible
final demo tape, and two superb outtakes from Fred Frith's Gravity lp.
is an excellent collection of home and studio demos from the band's
earliest period, when they were a quintet (Dave Newhouse-piano, organ,
woodwinds, Tom Scott-woodwinds, Billy Swann-bass, Stuart
Abramowitz-drums and Mike Zentner-guitar and violin). These 1975/76
recordings feature the band at their most Canterburian and especially
at their most Hatfield-like. This is the band as I knew them when I
first met them and these tapes - very carefully worked on to make them
sound quite good from their very primitive genesis - is a loving
tribute to a great band in their formative years, when they had more
cats than fans....
was their 1st and best known lp. A SUPERB and sublime instrumental mix
of Canterbury progressive, jazz-rock, improvisational elements, and
much more, all showcasing a distinctive sound and unique touch.
Baker's Dozen press release