3 p.m., Dec. 6
Itai Faierman Says Goodbye Mashtis, Hello New Mu
“Just wanted to let you know the Mashtis are no longer together,” Itai Faierman tells the Reader. “I have a new psych-rock project in the vein of late-era Syd Barrett. We start recording our first EP at the end of March.” Planned as a vinyl release, the EP will be recorded by Mike Kamoo at Earthling Studio.
The new project, which he's calling Mu, is a songwriting duo with longtime friend Mike Flynn (the Queen’s Guard). “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.”
Through the 2011 holidays, Faierman was in Berlin, playing a series of solo dates and meeting with friends who own a German record label. Mu has already lined up a monthly residency at the Lincoln Room and a gig at Bar Eleven on April 12.
“We’re also booking shows in Los Angeles for late April and May, and planning a west coast tour up past San Francisco this summer.”
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.
After a few unfocussed solo projects, he founded the Mashtis in 2009 with Erica Putis on bass and vocals and Neal Bociek on drums.
Their eponymous debut in 2010 was followed in late 2011 by a seven inch vinyl record, Canopy of Sundays, which came with four additional songs on downloadable cards, in a limited edition run of 250 copies with collectible art packaging.
The title of the seven inch turned out to have presaged the split.
“Canopy of Sundays describes that feeling of utter euphoria that happens when you know something’s about to end, but you want it to last. Kind of like a long, drawn-out Sunday afternoon hangover, before you have to let it end and put in a full week of work.”
Not that the times with the Mashtis were all bad. “Our best local gig was at the Casbah last September with Film School. It was the most amazing and craziest crowd we've played to yet.
"People stuffed into the Atari Lounge, great vibes, lots of stiff drinks, and it was so hot in there I nearly passed out. We played some good, stripped down rock and roll that night, for sure!”
Their worst gig was their very first time playing as the Mashtis. “It was in LA at the Knitting Factory. No soundcheck, blaring monitors, and a packed room with only our friends really listening. We had to pay for all of our drinks, including water, and the manager called us by a different band name all night.”
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.”
That’s what we get for asking.