Former Mashtis frontman Itai Faierman formed Mu with local singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Flynn (the Queen’s Guard) in early 2012, with their debut gig taking place April 12 at Bar Eleven. Born on an army base in Israel, Faierman was raised in New York City. He relocated to San Diego in 2000, originally living at a Zen Buddhist monastery in South Bay.
Faierman has an unusually low voice for leads: not Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies) dead baritone, but an arresting mix of gravel with urgency. Prior to forming the Mashtis, he experimented with a Sonic Youth–inspired art-noise band that ultimately went nowhere.
He describes Mu as a “psych-rock project in the vein of late-era Syd Barrett.” A debut EP was recorded in March 2012 with Mike Kamoo at Earthling Studios. At the time, he told the Reader “We’ll be singing and playing an assortment of instruments, including guitars, bass, percussion, drums, and vintage synths, creating various psych-rock inspired sounds. We’ll also be adding a member in a month or two, a drummer friend of mine.”
As far as the new material goes, Faierman describes it as “kinda like the stuff I was doing in the Mashtis, but different in the sense that it has a lot of layers. There are alternating guitar parts and alternating vocal lines. It’s very melodic but also psychedelic, which is [Flynn’s] background. We might throw an ’80s drum machine in there. We are going to be switching instruments a lot. We have known each other as friends for so long that we don’t have to talk too much, we just kind of vibe.”
Asked about the new duo’s name, Faierman explains “The term mu comes from a Buddhist koan [paradoxical question] in the Zhaozhou Zhenji Chanshi Yulu. Mu is often used or translated to mean that the question itself must be unasked.”
“Mu, in this sense, means to unask the question, or that no answer can exist in the terms provided. In Robert M. Pirsig’s 1974 novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, mu is translated as ‘no thing,’ saying that it’s meant unask the question.”
In early 2012, they lined up a monthly residency at the Lincoln Room. That summer, Itai Faierman formed a new side band with Film School bassist Lorelei Plotczyk, telling the Reader “We’re in rehearsal, and should be ready to gig in a couple months.”