The brainchild of prolific British musician Ginger Wildheart, the latest album by his Mutation project was one that he warned would be something his fans would probably not like. And yet, when you look at the different projects he has been involved with over the years, such as the popish leanings of Hey! Hello! or his stint as sideman for ex Hanoi Rocks’ frontman Michael Monroe, there seems to be an increasingly elusive center for his fans to identity as quote-unquote normal output. This is inevitably a good thing for Wildheart as an artist however, as he has shown that he is willing to expand his sound in a music climate where most are still reluctant to do so.
One thing you could likely say for Error 500 and Mutations in general is that it is one of his more aggressive works. Case in point, “Bracken” is a pounding and brutal opener with a metallic grind that still has an underlying sense of pop craftsmanship. “Sun of White Leg” also has an initial flurry of blizzard distortion and drums before opening up into this almost comically ethereal sounding interludes toward the middle and end that would probably make you laugh uproariously at their quirkiness if they weren’t so damn well done.
With all these interesting little compositional and sonic tricks Wildheart orchestrates, it is possible he figured he might as go all out with the insanity. And really, what better way to bring a touch of insanity to your recordings than to welcome the effortlessly singular presence of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith into the studio. Smith makes cameo appearances on several tracks. Though his voice doesn’t sound out of place on tracks like “Mutations” and “Relentless Confliction,” it sounds merely how you might expect it to in the circumstances, including particularly angular and Fall-like riffs and rhythms to surround his vocal. Still, these two tracks are supremely intriguing anyway in context of the album at large.
And though the music here often falls into tiny crevices between genres (and, at times, sub-genres), that very rarely in music history has been a bad thing, or at least an uninteresting thing. Though you might normally be repulsed by an Emerson, Lake and Palmer-like organ run that drives “Innocentes in Morte,” in the circumstances of the album, it becomes more of a curiosity of where it is all going. And the answer there, as it is elsewhere on Error 500 is predominantly, “somewhere you probably didn’t expect.”