Everyone loves a train wreck. It’s one of the more puzzling aspects of human nature, but it’s true — Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie would have to act like worthless, spoiled brats without the benefit of a nationwide audience were it not. Mu vocalist (let’s not go so far as to call her a singer) Mutsumi Kanamori may have a tighter grasp on that fact than anyone else outside of a Fox television programming room. Like Afro Finger and Gel, Mu’s 2003 debut, Out of Breach (Manchester’s Revenge) combines Kanamori’s cryptic wails and broken English smack-downs with husband/producer Maurice Fulton’s acerbic, punked-out beats. But the frustration and discontent that tinted Afro Finger has blossomed into cartoonish violence on its follow-up.
As the Evil Dead films have proven, however, with over-the-top gore and destruction comes a sense of playfulness and satire. Kanamori relishes the role of the ridiculous diva, happily serving up one caricature after another, whipping herself into a schizophrenic frenzy as she plays both the aggressor and the victim — sometimes within a single song. This record is big in every sense: big noise, big beats, big ego. But it’s all in good fun, and that’s what makes it an easy listen — and quite possibly the smartest dance music ever created.
After a few isolated bleeps and pops, Mu starts the show with stabbing strings (a la the shower scene in Psycho) as Kanamori screams, “Welcome to Mu world, bitch! I’m talking to the person who took $1,500 from me on eBay, plus bitches who were releasing my vocals without my permission! And, another shout out to those bitches who hid my tampons backstage! And especially to all hatersI’m about to kung fu you!” Fulton adds a steady beat and a growling bass line that bends and swells in self-conscious parody as Kanamori continues her tirade, as if to say, Can you believe this chick? She’s completely lost it!
Fulton’s beats further the album’s full-throttle attitude, grabbing everything from Underworld-esque tone fills to funk guitars to Casio keyboard blips. At times, he’s concerned with making people dance, such as the pulsing title track or the banging “Tigerbastard.” Other times, he could care less: “I’m Coming to Get You” flip-flops between Kanamori’s sinister threats and happy-go-lucky keyboard melodies that sound like outtakes from the Fiery Furnaces’ Blueberry Boat. There are sirens, handclaps, even chicken squawks scattered throughout. The only consistent element is Fulton’s success in creating outstanding beats that echo the madness in which they’re mired.
And with mischievous song titles like “Paris Hilton” and “Stop Bothering Michael Jackson,” there’s certainly no shortage of madness. There’s a surreal amusement that comes from hearing a woman exclaim, “Leave Michael Jackson alone, you stupid bitch! Suck my dick!” over a swirling cloud of acid squelch — and these guys know it. The pair simultaneously ridicules and celebrates modern culture, pointing out its absurdities but happy for its existence, much like an insult comic thankful for the fat guy who bought a front-row seat. You are the target of its wrath, but you’re also its audience.