Muma's "Velvet Highway"

Muma’s Velvet Highway is a romp through the psychedelic territory of Pink Floyd and their contemporaries. At times the album strays too close to conventional, tired rock-and-roll to be of any marked interest. Occasionally, the sound comes dangerously close to biting Pink Floyd (for example, the intro for track “爱在流逝中”)  or, depending on how you want to look at it, may be recognized as a fairly appropriate homage to the British band’s shimmering guitar-and-synth legacy. For what it’s worth, the song does have a little more bounce and cheeriness than some comparable tracks from that era.

Overall, the album has a somewhat celebratory feel, the track “你想要跳支怎样得舞” is an exuberant one, and is one of the heavier songs. Some songs are sweeping and triumphant, such as “赞美之歌”, maybe excessively so (treading the thin line between powerful and cheesy).

The track “她是黯淡星” also is a little too reminiscent of 70s psych bands, but it manages to pull away and grow into its own, becoming quite an epic, moving piece. There are some solid guitar solos shredding in and out, such as in the track “欲望号 “.

The track which stands out the most is “超现实预言”. It is a departure from the heavy rock that populates the rest of Velvet Highway, and is probably the least reminiscent of old psych outfits. Rather, it’s the closest the album has to a pop song. The intro’s bouncy, bright synth and meandering guitar are catchy, the vocal melody comes to close to hooks, and the song’s pacing is as you’d hope. Of all the other songs, this one is certainly my favorite. It just should have ended without the unnecessary “unplugged” outro.

The album is a little too straightforward to do its name justice, which seems to reference the filmography of the eccentric filmmaker David Lynch (specifically the films Lost Highway and Blue Velvet). It is mostly just rock-and-roll that has been explored already. That isn’t to say the album sounds bad, because it doesn’t. Everyone on it sounds like a well-versed, well-practiced musician. The songs just don’t appear to cover any new ground, sounding like a revisitation of worn sonic territory that should be left for greener pastures. They aren’t particularly engaging, and most of the tracks could be renditions of rock songs I’ve heard in the distant past.

But, for all its shortcomings, the album manages to hold up well. It just won’t blow you away.

Check out Muma on Douban.

Photo courtesy of Rock in China Wiki.

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