Mu “Mu”

Recognize those licks? Fans of Antenna Jimmy (Jeff Cotton’s) unmistakable slide guitar work will hear it off the bat. And this may be the record to clue the skills behind the Magic Band to those who ever thought Captain Beefheart’s troupe were overrated hacks. But Mu is really a Merrell Fankhauser project, the man behind a string of awesome albums including Fapardokly and HMS Bounty’s Things.

The band happened across a copy of James Churchward’s The Lost Continent of Mu, a book about the mythical “Hawaiian Atlantis.” This provided the band name and a set of ideals (the bands’ matching those of the lost civilization) for inspiration. The fascination grew to a point that the group moved to Maui to try and find the lost city themselves.

The sound of Mu is a wholly unique mix of psychedelic rock and rhythm and blues. The interlocking rhythms and primal pulse of the Captain’s music shows its influence, but Mu is a more radio-friendly affair, think the Magic Band Lite. The tunes are largely instrumental and mildly progressive suites, with just enough structure and restraint to entice more conventional listeners. Mu benefits from this, the rare even blend of experimental with consonant songcraft. Cotton turns in some excellent slide, but also bass clarinet, and contributes a good deal of the songwriting. The rhythms are undeniably good, the songs sound better and better, and the drum break on the 9 minute Eternal Thirst (the longest track by a while) nudges the album into the realm of the hypnotic.

After an unissued follow up record recorded in Maui (included on the Sundazed 2CD set). Jeff Cotton, along with Randy Wimmer, left Mu in 1975 to study the Christian Ministry. Merrell grew increasingly fascinated with the lost continent of Mu, recording more albums based on the Mu theme and continuing to play music in the Hawaiian islands. The record they created in 1971 is remarkably fresh, out-there, and absolutely one-of-a-kind. Recommended.

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“Ain’t No Blues”

:D CD Reissue | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]
:) Original Vinyl | Lemurian | search ebay ]

8mm silent footage of Mu performing in 1972


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  • Wow. It’s neat to hear how these guy could sound without Vliet breathing down their necks.

    Still, this music is slow and bulbuous, but it’s a little tapered, too. It’s got a great California vibe about it.

    Also, a tin teardrop.

  • mark

    Once again, I thank you guys for this introduction… Mu is soulful! The chaotic edge of Captain Beefheart is not to be found here — the musicianship is taut and layered — the sax adds a depth to their sound. I have already ordered a copy and will let you know its effect on me…

  • Louder than Milk

    Thank you for the post. Just ordered the Sundazed CD, having the extra tracks is generally a bonus. I bought the Fapardokly one some while back and while interesting, it didn’t jump out at me and say – investigate the Fankhauser projects further – but the brief snippets here seem like Mu is all gold. After that it looks like its all on board for HMS Bounty and then the first solo Fankhauser album. Pity, it would seem, that Jeff Cotton retired from the music biz so early in the piece.

  • Jason

    This is a great album, one of my favorites!

  • Bungalow Teddy

    you ever play Mu Darts?! it all originated from this one time i was sitting at a stoplight with my brother and a car rolled up to our side, the window rolled down and a little man in the drivers seat looked over at us and in a high-pitched cat-like voice said “Muuuuuu!”

    and with that Mu Darts was born.

  • It’s posts like this that make TRS my favorite music site. You guys rule.

  • mark

    Any idea where I can obtain this gem? I have been trying since the 8th of July and even Sundazed tells me to wait and check back every month or so. So far, I have tried every sourse on the web with the same results.

    Help! I cannot wait that long!… Perhaps a loaner copy?…
    thoughts? suggestions?
    (someone throw me a lifeline!)

  • progger

    Do you have some link for download?

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