Mark Mothersbaugh Joyeux Mutato (Rhino)
Reviewed by Ken Lieck, Fri., Dec. 22, 2000
Joyeux Mutato (Rhino)The first of Rhino Handmade's series of limited-interest CDs to be re-released in a more easily purchasable form (the original, limited edition with extra tracks and fancier packaging can still be obtained via the label's Web site), Joyeux Mutato finds Rugrats composer/Devo humanoid Mark Mothersbaugh alone in the studio cranking out predictably twisted takes on various elements of Christmas music. Largely instrumental, the disc might best be filed under "techno-pop," with Mothersbaugh putting keyboards to the fore in most instances, sculpting subtly subversive new tunes from the melodies of classic carols and hymns. The playful and occasionally disturbing "Jingle$, Jingle$, Jingle$" and "Midnight Wind-Up Toy" are hypnotic and repetitive, lulling one into the same sort of reverie that holiday songs are meant to do, then pinching the listener's cheek like an elderly aunt, reminding them that yes, this is the singer from Devo who's dishing out the Christmas cheer. The other members of the seminal New Wave band were involved in production or at least thanked on the album as well, but this isn't quite a Devo retro-Christmas -- it's as year 2000 as they come, in fact. And it makes a fine holiday treat as well, at least for anyone wicked enough to appreciate a Christmas song subtitled "Soylent Night."