Solo performer: Bob Mould (vocals, various instruments).
Recorded at Granny 6, New York, New York and Bearsville Studios, Bearsville,
Bob Mould's fifth solo album, and his first after a four-year self-imposed retirement (during which he worked as a writer and script supervisor for World Championship Wrestling), is about as big a change as his first solo album, 1989's delicate and introspective WORKBOOK, had been from his days in Husker Du. This is to say that although MODULATE sounds quite different on a casual first listen, further exploration reveals that Mould's familiar themes and singular writing and performing style are present and accounted for.
The difference on MODULATE is that for the first time in his career, Mould introduces synthesizers and other electronic instruments into his music. Although the album was initially touted as Mould's foray into full-blown electronica, the electronics are actually rather sparingly applied; only a couple of tracks, most notably the opening "180 Rain," do away with the guitars entirely. Most of the rest of the songs, particularly the moving "Author's Lament," would be right at home on any of Mould's previous solo records. MODULATE is at heart not unlike Neil Young's TRANS: an album that is less of a stylistic sidestep than it initially appears.
What the critics say...
Q (6/02, p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The first half of MODULATE is startling--Mould sculpts his guitar sound into new forms, toys with electronica and adds shimmering instrumental fragments,,,MODULATE offers some of [Mould's] most effective pop songs..."
CMJ (3/11/02, p.11) - "...Erasure is an easy comparison with MODULATE's '80s-style synthesizers, elements of house music and an overall, industrialized sci-fi sound....he gives even the most porgrammed moments a homespun feel..."
Mojo (Publisher) (6/02, p.110) - "...An album of propulsive electropop. Unfashionable and intensely melodic, Mould's furrow-browed nuse does allow the odd gag..."