Premonitions-of-calamity rock.
Premonitions-of-calamity rock. Devil in the Woods Records

Muuk, "Seis Ausente" (Devil in the Woods)

Writing about music during a pandemic seems frivolous, but now more than ever people need both relief and catharsis from living in stressful times, and music is one of the most efficient ways to achieve those states. I've been searching my iTunes and inbox for songs that fit the world's current mood, and those on Balbuceo by Mexico City's Muuk really nail March 2020's air of paranoia and panic. (Balbuceo translates to "babbling.")

The songs here are at once spacious and claustrophobic, capturing a sense of impending doom while holding out the possibility of escape. Muuk's blend of electronic elements (turntable, sequencers, synths, drums, and audio samples) with conventional rock instruments (guitar, bass, and drums) lends the their music extra degrees of otherness. Balbuceo is one of the most compelling rock albums I've heard this year. You can hear the influence of former Dälek member Alap Momin, whose mixing skills enhance the record's dark density.

"Seis Ausente" (in English: "Six Absent") starts with a stream of hospital-equipment emissions before an ominous, slow-motion rock avalanche commences. Premonitions of calamity infiltrate every second of this track, and you can hear Muuk trying to contain the broiling angst. After the halfway point, the song explodes, accruing an emergency-room urgency; catharsis is achieved among the turbulence.

One can't help thinking of the epic struggle between medical science and viruses at this fraught moment in history. "Seis Ausente" helps grind out the tension we're experiencing during this crisis.