Mutator was recorded from 1996 to 1998 in New York City by Vega and with his wife and longtime collaborator Liz Lamere. The songs were unearthed in 2019 by Lamere and Vega confidant Jared Artaud from the singer’s vast archive of unreleased music.
The first singles “Nike Soldier” and “Fist” showcased Vega’s unrelenting creative spirit and knack for beguiling wordplay. The fact that these songs sat in the vault is a testament to just how prolific Vega was, steadily releasing albums until his passing in 2016.
For whatever reason, the tracks compiled on Mutator never saw an official release during his lifetime, but everything we’ve heard from the new posthumous LP stands up to the excellent material Vega released in the 1990s.
Vega co-founded Suicide with multi-instrumentalist Martin Rev in 1970. The duo’s 1977 self-titled debut is considered a seminal piece of minimal synth punk and “no wave” art, influencing everyone from darkwave goths to Bruce Springsteen. Vega, who passed away in 2016 at age 78, also launched a prolific solo career.
The touching archival footage in the video for “Muscles” provides a proper visual document of the late auteur in his element. The clip was directed by founding Jesus & Mary Chain bassist and video-maker Douglas Hart, who recalled the first time he encountered Vega’s music.
“When I was 15 years old, an arts show on British TV called ‘Riverside’ showed the video for Suicide’s ‘Frankie Teardrop,’” Hart said in a press release. “This video became for me the nexus between music and images… Those sounds and frames have haunted and sustained me for 40 years. So to be involved in bringing the Vega Vault to life for ‘Muscles’ blows my f**king mind — a dream project for me.”