Mu

Afro Finger & Gel

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Mu is a Sheffield, England-based duo consisting of Baltimore-born producer Maurice Fulton and his wife, Japan-born vocalist Mutsumi Kanamori. They've made one of those albums where the song titles -- "Let's Get Sick," "Afro Finger," "Destroying Human Nature" -- provide some indication of what to expect. And yet nothing short of complete knowledge of Fulton's background, behind aliases like Eddie & the Eggs, Boof, and Hot Sauce, could prepare you for this lunatic jumble of electro-punk, left-field house, and flat-out noise. Kanamori's vocals take on almost as many forms as her husband's productions. During the nervous stutter-pummel of "Let's Get Sick," she chants with all the exasperation of someone who has been prodded with a hot poker, and then during a robo-pop breakdown, she reverts to a relaxed, wordless scat. Multiple drum patterns created by machines and humans trip over each other; a siren signals a series of bombs that are detonated. On the frizzling "Jealous Kids," Kanamori's voice is turned into a detached drone that is almost as imposing as the drums, which seem as if they're being pounded out by 500-pound mutants in a canyon. The slippery "Destroying Human Nature" features two Kanamoris in its seemingly deep-sea dwelling; one is a mush-mouthed ogre, the other a whispering seductress. She plays almost all the roles in "My Name Is Tommi," a quasi-radioplay -- backed by mechanical hum and spasmodic percussion -- inspired by an episode of the U.K. program Cheaters (a Candid Camera for two-timing lovers). For all its contorted, couldn't-give-a-damn attitude, at least half of the album is danceable and suitable for DJ sets that have the time for electronics-heavy post-punk (Fad Gadget, Cabaret Voltaire), oddball disco (Loose Joints, Was (Not Was)), and left-field dance (LCD Soundsystem, Chicken Lips). Lovers of smooth, pure deep-house should duck and cover.

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