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Merzbow/Keiji Haino/Balazs Pandi: An Untroublesome Defencelessness

Mark Corroto By

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The often repeated refrain to a complaint about music is, "If it's too loud, then you're too old," doesn't apply to An Untroublesome Defencelessness by Merzbow, Keiji Haino, and Balázs Pándi. You probably should just agree, it is too loud. With any Merzbow record, it just seems to never gets old.

Of late, Merzbow's, aka Masami Akita, collaborations with other artists have focused more attention on his sonic panoramas. He can be heard with Boris, Gareth Davis, Akira Sakata, Jim O'Rourke, Lasse Marhaug, and Richard Pinhas. His closest ally, and, it can be argued, finest collaborator, is Balázs Pándi. The Hungarian drummer has been performing in duo with his Japanese noise partner and also formed a trio with Merzbow and Mats Gustafsson on two recordings, Cuts (RareNoise, 2013) and Live In Tabačka 13/04/12 (Tabačka Records, 2015). That same trio became a quartet with the addition of Thurston Moore for Cuts Of Guilt, Cuts Deeper (RareNoise Records, 2015). Pándi brings out something special in Akita, it is mostly likely his volume and intensity. Pándi is a cross between a heavy metal and free jazz drummer. He has been a valued guest on recordings by jazz artists such as Wadada Leo Smith, Roswell Rudd, and Ivo Perelman.

This outing Merzbow and Pándi team up with legendary Japanese guitarist Keiji Haino, a master of rock, free jazz, noise, minimalism, and psychedelia. While Akita has collaborated with Haino, this appears to be the first time the guitarist has recorded with the drummer.

The music—yes it's loud, or should I say yes, it's loud? yes, it's harsh, but thanks to Pándi there's an approachable side here. He acts as Virgil, Dante's guide through Inferno, beating the drum, so to speak. The music is made up of two suites, "Why Is The Courtesy Of The Prey Always Confused With The Courtesy Of the Hunters..." and "How Differ The Instructions On The Left From The Instructions On The Right?"

The first suite opens with a few strummed notes, then the exploratory drums open the door to Merzbow's storm of electronic feedback. This ,though, is not a battle royal, but occasionally mutual assured destruction. Haino can scorch the earth as mightily as Akita, with Pándi supplying a constant pulse. His drums are really the only way through this arena. The pause we hear in Part III of "Why Is The Courtesy Of The Prey Always Confused With The Courtesy Of the Hunters..." is filled with the atmospherics of Akita's electronics that draw thunderous beats and echoey guitar notes. All of which builds to a running-on- fumes, cathartic ending.

The next four tracks comprise Parts I-IV of "How Differ The Instructions On The Left From The Instructions On The Right?" The separate parts give each musician distinct space. We can't really call them solos, since the suite constantly hurls towards forever. In Part III, Haino shouts lyrics over the electronic wind and drumming thunder. Turn it up, this is fortissmo with a capital 'F.'

Track Listing: Why Is The Courtesy Of The Prey Always Confused With The Courtesy Of the Hunters...(Part I); Why Is The Courtesy Of The Prey Always Confused With The Courtesy Of the Hunters...(Part II); Why Is The Courtesy Of The Prey Always Confused With The Courtesy Of the Hunters...(Part III); How Differ The Instructions On The Left From The Instructions On The Right? (Part I); How Differ The Instructions On The Left From The Instructions On The Right? (Part II); How Differ The Instructions On The Left From The Instructions On The Right? (Part III); How Differ The Instructions On The Left From The Instructions On The Right? (Part IV).

Personnel: Merzbow: electronics; Keiji Haino: guitar, electronics, occasional vocals; Balazs Pandi: drums.

Title: An Untroublesome Defencelessness | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

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