|Takahe Collage (Handmade Birds)|
Masami Akita's release on the underground darling label, Handmade Birds, adds to the label's strangeness. The three tracks that make up Takahe Collage are just as weird as one might expect to hear from both the artist and label at this point. Pulsating rhythms that accelerate and decelerate throughout the course of a given track while various noises and effects are given free reign to completely rewire whatever idea a track is. Now, obviously I can't say that I've heard everything that Akita has released - I challenge anyone to say that they have heard it all from him - but the handful of releases from his vast discography that I can say that I have heard, are different to this. The soundscapes(?) created on here are far from the intense harsh noise work he's done, but also aren't in the more inventive beat-craft realm either, it's something a bit more "avant-garde" so to say. At times coming across more like 8-bit music, at another it might be closer to effect-driven blasts of feedback. You never quite know where exactly a track is going and that can be part of the fun. At its best, it's a psychedelic trip, it's like all the best music of this sort where it lulls you into a sort of trance where you're open to whatever ideas come at you. At its worst though, it has the same problem I've always had with Akita's music, it is horribly self-indulgent. While the thirty-two minute long title-track encounters this problem it must also bear the weight of opening up the album, though I can't say if it would have benefitted from being the closer either, it just rambles on a bit too long for my taste. So, if that is the album at it's worst, the second track, Tendeko, must highlight the best. In comparison with the first track, it's far less spastic and a bit more pensive (in a sense) allowing for a greater chance to dive into the soundscape and become entranced by it. The droning low-end that is exhibited in the latter half of the track is possibly my favorite part of the entire album. Obviously, the more effect driven sounds are a big part of the sound of Merzbow but in the case of this album, when Akita went into straight noise or drones, I found it to be to the album's advantage.
The collaboration released just a few months ago between Akita, saxophonist Mats Gustasfsson, and drummer Balazs Pandi is a whole different story. The combination of just those three entities clashing on stage results in a sort of bizarre, John Zorn-ish, mish-mash that really is something to marvel at while listening. You can definitely tell that it was performed live (which it was for those not aware) and it only adds to the chaos that the trio made. It doesn't have that studio sheen that you would hear on Gustasfsson's or Pandi's material or the control or focus on Akita's, which results in absolute chaos. I relate it to the work of John Zorn's live material because it does have that sense of complete improvisation vibe to it, where everything is off-the-cuff and nothing is safe. The press release for this album mentioned that it could be compared to the likes of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music or Sonic Youth, and while I can see why those comparisons were made, this doesn't really have the rock foundation that a group like Sonic Youth would bring to the table or the warped sense of genius from Lou Reed (when speaking about that album). Instead, what you have is blistering feedback, frantic bursts of saxophone, and drumming that sounds like the kit is falling apart - obviously, make of that what you will, but while I did feel like several of the tracks were a bit too extended to really be "enjoyable", because let's be honest and say that it is very rare that noise based music can actually be enjoyable, it was consistently interesting. For me, while the shots of utter chaos were perfectly fine, and sort of what I expected to hear from this record, the shorter tracks, The Fear Too. Invisible. for example, was where I really dug into this album; and it's where Gustasfsson really shined. So, as you probably have already ascertained from this, this is not a record for everyone. If you're a fan of any of the trio, than this would be worth looking into, otherwise listen to at your own caution.
|Sulphur (Independent) + Corephallism/Gnaw Their Tongues Split (Lascivious Aesthetics)|
Beginning with the unreleased material of Sulphur, we have Mories utilizing a sound that is both familiar and a bit different from his typical material with the project. The four tracks on here are not quite so abrasive or chaotic sounding as a lot of his older material or as industrially precise as his more recent stuff, dwelling in a sort of weird middle ground. It's a lot more droning, in a sense, than usual. In a sense, it's a bit more contemplative than a lot of the work I've heard from the project. A track like Silence is one of the most sobering pieces I've ever heard Mories release from the project, though that isn't to say the other three tracks don't have their more maniacal sides. The ideas used in From Shoulder to Waist and Choke should be familiar to anyone who is a fan of the project.
And then there's the split with Corephallism. Starting with the GTT side, being the track A Moral Guide to Self-Castration and Necrophilia, you can expect all the typical sounds you've heard from the project. Now, I say that in sort of a throwaway fashion but it's actually a pretty solid piece of work that makes use of the death-industrial(?) genre pretty damn well; and as someone who isn't completely sold on that style of music, I hope that's saying something. The industrial percussion, the frantic screams, bursts of feedback, droning cacophony - what more would you want from a GTT track? I was not aware of Corephallism before this split was sent to me so I was not aware of the style that the project produced - though I assumed that it would be similarly as dark and chaotic as Mories' material with GTT. So you can imagine my surprise when Abandonment began and it was much closer to ambient music than noise. Granted, the distortion and feedback do come in halfway through, but the ambiance remains at the very front of the sound. By comparison, Rapes of Convenience is much more typical of the power-electronics variety, with the sole exception remaining the ambiance. So, from a fan perspective, if you're a fan of the more "noisy" side of GTT and looking for another project that is doing similarly interesting things within the genre, this would be a very nice addition to your collection.
|Comforts In Atrocity (Crucial Blast)|
|4 Black Suns & A Sinister Rainbow (Handmade Birds)|
|The Day After (Dipsomaniac)|
|Kahane + Fistula + Repent (Inam)|
Following that was the collaboration with Sun Hammer resulting in the album Fistula. Now, I can't say much about Sun Hammer since I'm not familiar with their work, but the collaboration has definitely resulted in the most noise based album I've heard from Sujo. While there is certainly not a shortage of post-rock inspired atmospheric touches and his trademark distortion tone certainly remains intact, the album as a whole is much closer to straight-up noise than his previous releases have been. The album is much more about building atmospheres under incredibly aggressive tracks of noise and distortion and feedback, which I guess you could say has always been a part of what made Sujo such an interesting project to begin with; but the slow electronic pulses and subtle industrial bangs and clashes that hide in the background were where I was able to truly distinguish this from the project's other work. Frankly, I wasn't as taken with this as much as I usually am with the work of Sujo, but there were some truly outstanding moments on here that definitely warranted the returns I made after the initial listen several months back. The likes of Nataf or closer Wolfshead definitely were impressive pieces that stood out from the rest. So, maybe not essential, but for worth hearing for those two tracks alone.
Next is Repent. Unlike the previous two releases, this album is much more in line with "typical" blackgaze records - having said that, it is only similar in the sound of the recording. Unlike the noisy and extremely dense pieces that Sujo has exposed to us on past releases, this album is far and away his most atmospheric venture. The ideas used call to mind more of the "depressive blackgaze" (I just made that up) bands who tried to rip-off the early records from groups like Alcest and Lantlôs but were nowhere near as inventive or interesting with their songs and wound up releasing albums that were extremely lo-fi and noisy but atmospheric as well. That is the sound that can be found on here. But, with that being said, with this being Sujo, obviously there's more sound to find in here and the melodic ideas are far more memorable and captivating. Yes, this is not the project's noisiest release, but it still features plenty of droning sections of either noise or ambiance, listen to Scoundrels for an example. It's a really nice paradox sound that counteracts most of the project's discography by presenting us as listeners with the project's signature sound and turning it on it's head. In talking about the more melodic side expressed on here, like the blackgaze genre itself does so often, it jumps between post-rock/shoegaze and black metal, and fortunately/unfortunately, that's what you get on here as well. Songs can have focus in on the more ambient post-rock side of the project, as on Nillin, or it can jump into hellish black metal, heard at the beginning of the title-track. If this short review comes off as sounding a bit uneven, that's not on purpose, because like the majority of the project's work, this is very much worth checking out.
|Corrosions of Travelled Daydreams (Simple Box Construction)|
|Stolen Fire (All Day)|
|Gnawed Gristle and Bone (Ominous Silence)|