Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Missed last week due to insanity, so two posts to come this week. Today's entry concerns two of the world's absolute noise gods, Japanese ultra-sound legend Masami Akita aka Merzbow and Californian dominatron John Wiese. It's hard to think of two more towering noise figures - of course Merzbow's infinite discography puts him in a separate noise-generating stratosphere (the 50-CD, $500 Merzbox is apparently still in print by the way, I dare you to buy one), but Wiese is pretty insanely prolific himself, and, as evidenced by his recent 52-track retrospective Teenage Hallucination: 1992-1999, has been making awesome noise since before he could drive. (BTW, try googling "Wiese" and "Teenage" like I did when seeking a good link to post, and check out what comes up...)

Multiplication (released by Misanthropic Agenda) is the pair's first collaboration (not counting Weise's contributions to two Merbow remix sets), and it's crammed, soaked, and bleeding with 70 minutes of typically inventive, physically altering sound. Everything was done via mail; the first six tracks are five-to-ten minute blasts produced by Weise, while the last is a 27-minute maelstrom produced by Merzbow. All kinds of tearing, obliterating noises speed by, with some like the grinding, pin-pointed "Luxor Skyship" devoted to pure drilling, and others like the waving, echoey "Spell" forging a soothing drone despite frequent jolts of assaulting spew.

There's a million things that make Multiplication highest-quality noise, but my personal fave is the album's sub-particle sense of two-man communication. You could blindfold someone and tell them this was made by just Merzbow or just Wiese and it'd be no shock, but still, there's a boggling interaction in the shooting, sifting sounds here. Bursts of hiss and darts of screech seem aware of each other, bouncing back and forth in a hall of mirrors drenched in flames. This wordless dialogue is most clear on the long final track, which starts slowly with filtered air and reverby ping-pong, but eventually travels the entire spectrum of non-note sound: fuzzy rumbles, grinding stabs, metallic whines, etc, all seeming to talk to each other and quickly respond. Multiplication might "just" be visceral, pulse-enhancing noise, but hold your head in Merzbow and Wiese's fire for a while, and you can see a stunning sub-galaxy of smoldering sound-molecules continually melt together. (Calendar check: Wiese plays Day Three of this year's No Fun Fest on Sunday, March 19th in Brooklyn...)

MERZBOW & JOHN WIESE - "Spell" from Multiplication


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