I love this quote about Jon Mueller: “As a solo artist, he focuses on the dialog between sound and the situation it’s presented in, often bypassing standard approaches to percussion and considering acoustics and concepts surrounding the work in order to create a larger experience for those listening.” (I’m not sure if this from an official bio or not as I read it on Discogs). Not only is this an approach that resonates with me, it’s a concise description of Mueller’s sprawling oeuvre.
We hear so much about ‘world building’ in novels and film, but not often in music. It makes sense, of course, but with Family Secret that’s exactly what Mueller does. He creates vast landscapes of sound that are as immersive as they are expansive.
Drones ring out on “Black Glass,” sounding like bottomless metallic craters. Subtle tonal shifts and distant scrapes feel claustrophobic like the world is closing in on you, snuffing out every last ray of light. There’s a darkness throughout Family Secret, but instead of being overbearing, it’s almost comforting in the sense that it’s familiar. “Welcome” is spacious and disorienting, frequencies echoing in the emptiness like a beacon to attract you. Focusing on that singular, rolling sound brings you to a path inside this mysterious world. While it may not be what you imagined, it’s a resolution. Sitting in stillness as the last hiss fades away, Mueller loosens his grip as you drift away.