Calling Cuts Open by Merzbow (aka Masami Akita), Mats Gustafsson and Balázs Pándi their sotto voce record would be like saying you received a love tap from Mike Tyson. This is the trio's fifth release, following the inaugural Cuts (RareNoise Records, 2013), Live In Tabačka 13/04/12 (Tabačka Records, 2015) and two sessions with the addition of Thurston Moore, Cuts Of Guilt, Cuts Deeper (RareNoise Records, 2015) and Cuts Up Cuts Out (RareNoise Records, 2018). The trio's quietude is though, relative. Compared to their previous output, Cuts Open is meditative ambience, but measured against, say Brian Eno's Another Green World (Island Records, 1975) this is a noisy hullabaloo.
To restate the premise, the quietude is relative.
Listeners accustomed to Merzbow's harsh Japanoise may take satisfaction in the effect Hungarian drummer Pándi has on Merzbow. He has, in this trio and on several duo outings, corralled and tamed Merzbow's approach with his own fierce attack. Add the wild man Gustafsson and the intensity rises exponentially. What makes Cuts Open such a special recording is the that trio zigs when you think they will zag. The four improvisations captured are less crowded, dare we say delicate? Opening with gong strikes, rattles, and murmured fizzing electronics, the trio takes a road less traveled. Gustafsson explains that the studio contained an array of percussive instruments, which all three musicians make use of throughout. Yes, Gustafsson picks up his saxophone here and there. With "On We Went Home," he applies breathy flutters and with "He Locked The Door," we catch his signature overblown saxophone shred. Mostly he matches Merzbow with electronics. Both musicians modulate their sound to allow for separation. With this restraint, Pándi swaps thunder for granularity, displaying a delicate and keen sense of color and timbre. While this may not be your typical Merzbow outing, it does prove his ability to morph and adjust to differing environments.
CD1/LP1: I Went Down To Brother; And We Went Home;
CD2/LP2: We Went Up With Mother; He Locked The Door.
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