Four years ago, ex-Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould swore off the crushing, distorted guitar rock that had been his sonic signature for almost two decades. While he's been moonlighting as a writing consultant for World Championship Wrestling, the college-rock nation he helped spawn has waited to see whether he was bluffing. Turns out Mould was, as always, good as his word: Even though his new album, Modulate, has hints of guitar, it's all awash in electronic texture, making even the most traditional songs sound as though they've been refracted through a prism. In recent interviews, he's given props to trance DJs such as Paul Oakenfold and Sasha & Digweed and mentioned his plans to release an electronic album this year under the pseudonym LoudBomb.
On paper, it sounds like bandwagoneering or the strangest midlife crisis ever, but Mould has always been an artist of startling integrity. His principles are as honest as the emotionally naked post-punk he pioneered in the 1980s; he's never cashed in on nostalgia by reuniting the Hüskers or his '90s pop trio, Sugar. Up until now, his solo tours were unguarded, cathartic, acoustic affairs: folk music executed with punk intensity. For Modulate, though, Mould has started a multimedia affair called the Carnival of Light and Sound, with self-directed art videos forming a backdrop to this new chapter of his solo career. And in an oddly intriguing act of synthesis, he's hinted about drum & bass versions of Hüsker Dü's best-loved songs.
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