Mo Bluntz – better known as Michael McNichols and the dude who beats cymbals to splinters in Astronautalis’ band – entered the producer’s arena in a major way this week, dropping a nine-song EP titled “Mixtape Volume 1.” The mixtape features a bunch of dudes from beyond the indie rap fray as well as Florida indie/bass rapper Bleubird and his homeboy Astronautalis.
Through his THC-soaked steez, you can tell Mo is playing around on many of the tracks – like “Strangers,” which is about fucking randos – and this experimentation adds a necessary level of levity. Mo’s work behind the boards isn’t nearly as aggressive as his drumming, but it is equally as nuance. “Bastard Son of Neil Young” is a clinking, video-game-like instrumental that is better off speaking for itself. Elsewhere, Bluntz mashes whirs and samples in “Contemplation” and waxes bleary vocals into a busy background on “Rocky on Top.” Beasthead, a previously unknown Midwest rapper who lends his skills to two separate tracks, is an unanticipated highlight, as are Bonnie Stitches’ delicate vocals on “Daisies.”
There’s a lot happening on the record. Mechanical twists, Modest Mouse-style pinched guitars, edible 808s, AutoTuned vocal lines that ribbon like a bridge between verses. Still the best part of “Mixtape Volume 1” is that it’s only volume one.
You can stream “Mixtape Volume 1” for free on Mo Bluntz’ Bandcamp, or you can pony up $5 for the take-home version. Your choice.