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Merzbow & John Wiese - Multiplication

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Artist: Merzbow & John Wiese

Album: Multiplication

Label: Misanthropic Agenda

Review date: Feb. 19, 2006

While the majority of the noise community is more than happy to lard mail order updates with the chichi gewgaws of one-off cassettes, CD-Rs and lathe cuts, omissions are conspicuous, as the most intriguing members of the noise brass dabble willy-nilly in the fine art of restraint. Self-control isn’t an attribute one might readily associate with Masami Akita, a.k.a. Merzbow, who is wont to equate his creations as some sort of sonic pornography as offshoot from the notion of music as sex, an ideology that found further fleshing on 1990’s works Music for Bondage Performance and Music for Bondage Performance 2. John Wiese has – so far – refrained from bringing rope restraints and ball gags along with his powerbook, but his brand of cut-up and reshuffled skree might nudge the uninitiated into furious bouts of bootlicking.

With Multiplication we have a true air mail special, as Akita and Wiese posted back and forth, buckling their contributions into place all by their lonesome. The results are varied, but if the collaboration’s intent was to create a perfectly homogenized scab of sound, Akita and Wiese can take their victory lap. Which is odd, with two musicians who assume distinctly different approaches in their cacophonous attack. Akita is unafraid of the static turbine blast, where an extended piece is akin to the entropic death of a droid colony, its inhabitants only learning that they can “feel” as they’re prejudicially melted into metallic repose. Wiese is subtle in comparison, building sound out of innumerable splices and cuts, pinning them down one upon the other and leaving them to contemplate the knife, as an eel whose head is nailed to a butcher-block, forced to watch the rest of the catch spasm out of the monger’s basket and onto the floor as he’s filleted in one slick motion.

Wiese doesn’t dispel with the sound building, but his tendency towards nuance is shattered by Akita’s slapstick barrage of smashup derby, a flaming Ghostrider determined to drive any intruding idea off of the track if only there were one. The absence of a foundation is addressed with “Erotic Westernscape,” where industrial smokestacks cough thorny Sarin cumuli into gummy orifices. Tones rise and fall, disintegrating into mechanistic shudders; not the visible sign of release, but the accompanying paroxysms of repression. The longest of the lot, title-track “Multiplication,” is a near 30-minute endurance test whose bottom falls out at the midpoint and floats along on windblown static until it’s completely consumed, slowly digested, and shat out the speakers.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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