mui zyu – Nothing Or Something To Die For

A record of apathy and empathy...

mui zyu’s second album ‘Nothing Or Something To Die For’ is a cathartic, cacophonic call to the void. Eva Lui (miu zyu—of Dama Scout) is questioning her reality, but isn’t afraid of starting a few fires while she’s at it. The record swings between calm and chaos, nihilism and joy, escapism and acceptance. There is not one singular answer across the fifteen songs but, rather, a collection of possibilities. 

Opening with an instrumental track, ‘satan marriage’, ‘Nothing Or Something To Die For’ immediately announces itself as a record of contemplation. Recorded by a string orchestra consisting of entirely East Asian women, ‘satan marriage’ was inspired by a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. ‘satan marriage’ reflects our attempts at comprehending the incomprehensible, however futile that may be for our inchoate brains. 

The dichotomy between chaos and calm is most evident in ‘speak up sponge’, a ghostly introspective tale of self-doubt. ‘Donna likes parasites’ carries itself over twinkling piano flourishes and an ever-so-slightly out-of-time bass pattern. It’s a song lamenting the dichotomy of modern life, fighting between what we want and what we should do. 

Modern anxiety comes to a head on ‘Please be ok (ft. Miss Grit)’. A circuslike spine-tingling synth melody and soft voices tell a story of begging someone to follow through with their promises. Encapsulating, embracing dark synth closes the track with a spiralling, almost countdown-like drum machine and insistent warping keyboard twinkles that speed up to highlight the anxiety of the track. 

Recorded at Middle Farm Studios in Devon, ‘Nothing Or Something To Die For’ is Lui’s first project recorded away from her home studio. Alongside regular producer and fellow Dama Scout band member Luciano Rossi, Lui experimented at the new studio, discovering instruments and equipment she had never used before. Experimental sounds like running instruments through tape machines add to the sense of modern life’s uncertainty. Lui poses questions that have no answers and answers to unspoken questions throughout the record, capitulating to society’s pressures of perfection and integrity, two outcomes that don’t necessarily mesh. 

But this isn’t a record of despair, not in the slightest. Lui’s hauntingly gentle vocals are interspersed between unsettling strings, ghostly soundscapes of echoing drum machines, and twinkling keyboards, which together, act as a kind of armour, a protection. If Lui is creating such disparity and incongruity, then nothing this world throws at her will be able to cut to the core. 

‘Nothing or Something to Die For’ isn’t an easy listen. This isn’t an album to shuffle into any old playlist. ‘Nothing or Something to Die For’ demands your full attention and doesn’t want to hear your excuses. It’s also not going to be for everyone, but it knows that. This is a record of apathy and empathy, of trying to find something to believe in in a culture addled by technology and superficiality. There are a lot of questions posed by ‘Nothing Or Something To Die For’, but mui zyu isn’t asking for an answer. She’s merely capturing her perception of the world, searching for something to make it all worth it. And whatever that may be is up to you now.

7/10

Words: Erin Bashford

-
Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.