The more I read about Erik Mut, the more I felt compelled to know more about this very interesting and inspiring individual, and the more I felt an urge to receive time management classes from him. Welcome to the very busy world of Erik Mut.

Too long to lay down in detail, Erik Mut is a Toronto native whose burning desire to leave the normality of day-to-day life in the conventional western society of Toronto had led him to basically flee, losing all the shackles, leaving the past behind, and fully liberating himself, finding a new life is Serbia, specifically in Belgrade. Having always been drawn to Baltic and Eastern European sounds and culture, Erik formed his band, ERIK & THE OTHERWORLDLY SAVAGES, in 2008, as soon as he set foot in his new, Baltic home, and immediately got down to business. With a huge number of performances across Europe, Erik’s sound now is truly eloquent, colorful, and incredibly expressive, he also manages to run a company with 150+ employees that provides jobs for expats and digital nomads. Eric is a very busy visionary, entrepreneur, musician, and adventurer, and it all shows in the quality of his music.

‘Break Free!’ Is the band’s latest album, and diving into the very first song, I was struck time and time again by the brazen quality of all the successive elements getting introduced into the mix. Brainwashed starts with an impassioned monologue about the bleakness of the common man’s life, and the illusion of free will in modern day society. Very dark stuff that immediately turns into one of the most enjoyable, humorous, and immaculately crafted instrumental breaks I have listened to for a long while. The gypsy-tinged horns and breakneck pace is explosive, expressive, and dramatic. The following verses continue to paint a dark picture of the uninspiring life of our tragic protagonist, before a sublime trumpet from the horn section goes into a heartfelt and musical solo, full of tasty, slow phrases that feel alive in a truly stunning display of musicality. Sunshine reminded me of a cleaner, less decisive version of Tom Waits’s relatable melancholy. With the wailing, haunting string arrangement, and the hypnotic, sad composition, the impassioned vocals, and weighted, real-life stories sung through the lyrics. The masterfully written and arranged string section that plays progressively delicious melodic runs in the bridges help make this song hypnotic, charismatic, and artful. 

Sitting snugly in the middle of the album is the sprawling artwork that is ‘Glass Cage’. This anthemic, grand composition finally sees our protagonist break free from the shackles of their restricting and restricted lives, as they leave the past behind and decide to leave the country. The bulk of the story is delivered through weighty musical passages, driven by ebbing and flowing cymbal runs and weeping violins that sound deliciously Mediterranean, then a large, warm acoustic guitar hits, introducing the chords in a lighter manner, as the lyrics tell of the protagonist’s decision to break free from the horrific mediocrity sung in the verses, paving the way for the outstanding instrumental chorus where the band comes in with inspired power and intention. The drums, the bass, the memorable accordion melody, peppy, endearing, and danceable, all create an instrumental medley of the highest quality in this grand centerpiece, that truly sounds like the hope the protagonist must have felt, finally making his first steps to realize his dreams of escaping the monotony of his life. The classic, tried-and-true ramping up of the tempo creates a crescendo that’s just succulent. Leaving is a sublime vibe. Featuring a conventional arrangement, with a particularly cool, massive, and driving bass riff. Uber cool, this song is a tasty one-chord vamp, with a steady, solid beat, syncopated, funky guitar riff, and a dear bass riff, Leaving is positively hypnotic. 

Oi Va Voi & Tom Waits could come together to make music, and they might fall short of the quality that Erik Mut injects into every moment on this album. A one-of-a-kind man, Erik’s art is expressive, charismatic, and dense, sounding at once relatable, ethnic, unusual, and all the while familiar and easy to digest. He offered me on this album a couple of the most exciting and memorable musical moments in my recent memory. The explosion of the chorus in ‘Brainwashed’, the wailing strings of ‘Sunshine’, pretty much the entirety of ‘Glass Cage’, and the bass-induced hypnosis of ‘Leaving’ are all moments that will stick with me for the time being. ERIK & THE OTHERWORLDLY SAVAGES are talented, and their latest album is a sophisticated and nuanced blast of fun and melancholy, hope and despair. Give it a listen.