If you have ever tried withstanding one of John Oswald’s plunderphonic onslaughts, then Workers, the debut album from Mullr, may not sound too unfamiliar. This ought to be expected since Mulllr — real name Ryuta Mizkami and one half of Reshaft — describes himself as a ‘collagist’, which echoes the sound-collage ethos of the plunderphonic project. The melodies on this album are constructed from vast sheets of tidbit samples, squashed together in as many permutations as possible. It is therefore near impossible to tease out any discernible melodic hook or rhythm. The track names too, contribute to the dizzying sense of detachment. The tracklist is a litany of fragmented phrases, the contexts of which will never be known: ‘…and Crowded Trains’, ‘…and Excessive Drinking’, ‘…and Loss of Memory’ and so on.
Yet despite its disjointed style, and the patchwork nature of the sound, the album as a whole stands as a towering monolith. Within the first few seconds, there is an overpowering torrent of noise that extends for the album’s full 56 minutes. There is no silence between tracks, and no respite from the assault. Where many artists pause for a melodic release, or dynamic break, Mulllr leaves no air to breath. It feels like being vacuumed into a wormhole, where every iota of space has been sucked out. At times, I found myself laughing along with the record, so bold and striking are its dynamic movements. The result is an exhausting and astonishing workout.
‘Post-Japanoise’ is a term that has been coined by Signal_Dada owner Shotahirama to describe the nascent trend in Japan of music that has hyperactive noise and glitch elements at a pop-music level of clarity and sheen. Where Japanoise used the harsh resonances of distortion and feedback to devastating effect, Post-Japanoise surrounds the listener with HD frequencies and rapid stylistic shifts. It’s exciting to think of Workers as part of this contemporary curve, but we ought not to pigeonhole it so quickly. Not least because the album has been released via Comfortzone, an Austrian-based label founded by Christina Nemec, better known as Chra and bass player to Shampoo Boy. Post-Japanoise itself is only just beginning to form some sort of cohesive whole, so it would be premature to begin signalling its developmental milestones. That said, if we one day find ourselves retrospectively examining the roots of something like ‘Post-Japanoise’, Workers, Mulllr and Reshaft will surely be among the first names to mind.