Monday, 14 March 2011

From the Top Drawer IX - Mutagen

Mutagen were formed in Brighton in the early 1990s and played a mixture of what at the time might have been termed 'crusty' techno mixed with dub and electric guitars. The line-up originally included an ex-member of Ring (Ian) and in a later incarnation a synth player (Simon) who would go on to play as a solo electronic act called Astral Engineering and release a CD on the Worm Interface (Ambient Soho) label.

I remember first seeing them play at the Deptford Urban Free Festival that used to take place in Fordham Park in the summer and thinking that they were pretty impressive and fresh sounding. Mutagen featured vocals as well and the live set quite often included dancers and performers of various kinds. I like the combination of guitar and electronics, the organic with the inorganic, it seems to work well as long as the music doesn't stray into cheesy and predictable song structures.

Thinking about the Deptford Festival, there used to be an equivalent event in Brighton called the Brighton Urban Free Festival (B.U.F.F.) which took place on the Level over a couple of days at a weekend in the summer. I think there were noise complaints from the locals (who even to this day seem only too pleased to put up with the Fun Fair which arrives for a noisy week to 10 days regularly throughout the year - commercial/money-making, you see...ah, that's all right then) and the BUFF had to move. There was a great day out in 1995 in Wild Park which seemed to be ideal for something the size of this festy, but a year later it moved again to Stanmer Park for a day, after which a minimal number of complaints about noise to the police (from over the other side of the A27!) meant that it was never staged in the town again. So much for democracy - it seems that if there's ever a danger of anyone enjoying themselves in Britain somebody else will disapprove of it, and even if this represents the minority, the law always will take their side and get the thing shut down. The Puritanical streak still persists in this country.

There seems to be little information online about the band apart from this -

What we have here then, is what I believe to be their first tape release called 'Shrine - In Your Mind' which is dated 1992.

Ripped from the original cassette @320kbps, the track titles can be found on this scan -

Get it HERE


  1. Here is a link to a video of Mutagen playing live in Winchester 1992, audio feed taken from the desk.... enjoy!

  2. Hey jellytron, thanks a lot for the link. Always good to have some visuals to go with the music.
    I've got a couple more Mutagen tapes to up and this will the perfect vid to go with the next post.

  3. Hi Gobbledygook,

    Thanks (in part) to your posting of this on here, we decided to upload more Mutagen albums for free download at bandcamp and facebook !
    If anyone has any pictures or stories please post them to our new Facebook page.. we'd love to hear them. :-)

  4. That's great news Anon/Mutagen - thank you.

    I've been trying to do a rip of 'Inner Sense' to post here but the combination of the old tape & my cassette deck isn't working, I guess that some cassettes have a limited lifespan (oxide coming off?). That particular album is still my favourite, so I'll visit Bandcamp and grab a copy.

  5. Nice one Gobbledygook :-)
    All the best.