By Dominick Matarese |
What do Spongebob, Korn, Star Wars, and the Talking Heads have in common? Well, beyond appearing on Niel Cicieregas new album Mouth Dreams… not much.
The mashup master, Neil Cicierega, is back with the fourth installment in his “Mouth” series. Mouth Dreams is the latest in a long line of mashup albums that have always been surprisingly tasteful, while still retaining comedic value. Some songs in his repertoire sound like typical juvenile mashups you’d find on YouTube or Soundcloud, but for the most part his songs are well crafted, funny, and occasionally evoke emotions you would never expect.
Mouth Dreams biggest difference between the previous three albums is its “dream” theme. Many of the songs sample lyrics involving sleeping, laying in bed, and dreaming. These types of thematic gimmicks aren’t new for Cicierega, but on this project the songs transition in between each other in dream-like ways, and are filled with rich texture that sometimes verges on psychedelia. The lush soundscapes transcend anything on his past albums, and the trippy atmospheres suck you into the album and leave you hanging on the edge of your seat for what unexpected songs will come next.
Like all good plunderphonics albums, Mouth Dreams takes samples from genres, artists, and songs that could not be further apart, and makes them work. When I heard the intro to Peter Gabriel’s hit “Sledgehammer” come in on “Fredhammer”, I had no idea that what came next would be verses from Nookie by Limp Bizkit. The eclectic collection of songs makes you re-examine songs you thought you knew in a whole new light. Standout songs off this project are “Cannibals” which is a spacy and atmospheric rendition of “She Drives Me Crazy”, and “10,000 Spoons” which layers “Ironic” by Alanis Morrisete over the theme from Knightrider.
While many of the tracks here are just goofy songs you can throw on for laughs with friends, there are a handful which have decent replayability and will stay stuck in your head all day. In terms of drawbacks to the album, I do think there are some tracks in the second half which are a little weak. Namely “Brithoven”, “Ain’t”, “Whitehouse”, and “Pee Wee Inc”. These tracks are a little gimmicky because they take popular songs and retrofit them into zany instrumentals. They are funny, but lack the depth and originality of most of Neils work. Other songs like “Where is my mom?” and “Johnny” fall into a similar category. These songs come with more flair but fail to differentiate themselves from aforementioned low effort YouTube and Soundcloud songs.
In a Twitch livestream where he unveiled the album, Cicierega stated of the album; “I think it’s best listened to in bed, with your eyes closed.” This is how I listened to it, and I would recommend doing the same for the full experience.
I would recommend Mouth Dreams to anyone who enjoys meme culture, parody songs, and mashups. Although it may seem goofy (which it is) I would pretty much recommend this to anyone, as the influences are so varied and may make you look at a song you love in a new way.