Very few labels present such a variety of formats and packaging as Jon Mueller’s Crouton. This time they placed a disc perfectly hidden under the info sheet in a 10-inch cover – enriched on the opposite side by Thomas Kovacich’s artwork, a painting named “Cadmium dyptich” – to the point that I had already filed “Plates and wires” as a vinyl in my archive, only to discover that it was instead a CD when I went for the first listening (please save your “check the internet” comments, I haven’t THAT much time in my day). It was indeed the first of what will probably be a long series. The pairing of Catlin and Mueller works well because of their differences, which is to say everything except the fact that they specialize in making their instruments quiver most of the time. One uses self-built devices and peculiar preparations to “extend the sonic possibilities of the guitar”, the other is able to put the skin of a snare drum in such a vibrating excitement that you’ll have to watch out for your wife’s Murano collection’s safety if raising the volume too happily. The five tracks alternate the basic colours of Catlin and Mueller’s palette quite regularly, percussion initially leading with an uncomfortable, incessant, crackling tremor that develops into a thorough disintegration of percussive laws, then leaving room to steady drones, repeated hits, surges of whirring strings that finally stabilize into a beneficial rubbing of the nape of the neck. Through just a few changes of tricks and consequent timbres, the 45 minutes flow without a single moment of tiredness in a fine study on drone complexion that finds many useful sweet spots to knock our willpower out.


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