Brand new Merzbow all up in your life, with the kind of ferocity only the Japanese master and a select few other high-functioning noisers can bring. Wildwood is, in accordance with Masami’s hardcore animal welfare principles, a benefit release for a bear rescue charity in Kent: look, there’s one on the cover! I wonder what the bear lovers of Kent will make of this?
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As the rest of the Norman pantheon get generously lullabyed by Yo La Tengo’s new covers album, I am betrothed to the new Merzbow record. The ecstatic noisemaker is turning his gaze towards philanthropy with ‘Wildwood’; all proceeds raised by this torrentially dissonant record go to a bear trust in Kent, which is my favourite thing ever -- Merzbow repping the garden of England. As a Kentish boy, I feel I am second best fiddle for writing this review after Dwight Schrute. Do bears like harsh noise? Is Merzbow a South-east Tory? Is this real? All these questions and more will be ignored in this review.
Merzbow has recently been making a lot of free improv records with friends like Gustaffson, Pandi and Sonic Youth Dad, and while those records saw percussion freefall around each artist’s different discipline, ‘Wildwood’ is freeform around a lot of Merzbow’s usual tricks: harsh noise that isn’t scattered but rather furiously flatlined, his units all screeching with sounds as gruesome as feedback. Under this current of hatred he cultivates almost kraut-like rhythms that sound like they’ve been caught in a sandstorm. The first three tracks follow this routine of fighting any of Merzbow’s propulsive inclinations off with his abstract intuitions -- see “Winter”, where he makes one of those Brinkmann-esque tones stay long enough to feel like a rhythm, all the while foregrounding screeching effects to ruin everything.
It’s the final track that gets to be this release’s talking point, with Merzbow processing a guitar towards the same ends of chaos and compressed noise. It sounds pretty much the same as the pieces that came before it, which is testament to Merzbow’s ability to claw his way to dissonance from any means. Heh, claw, am I right? This release isn’t at all unbearable.
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