Power Trio Merzbow, Keiji Haino, Balazs Pandi Present Their New Album on RareNoise, An Untroublesome Defencelessness
The renowned Japanese electronic maestro Merzbow (aka Masami Akita) joins forces with his fellow countryman Keiji Haino and Hungarian drummer Balazs Pandi on another example of extreme sonic experimentation in the form of An Untroublesome Defencelessness. Merzbow and Pandi, who have been playing together since 2009 and previously collaborated on two RareNoiseRecords releases -- 2013ʼs Cuts (with Swedish free jazz saxophonist Mats Gustafsson) and 2015ʼs Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper (with Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore) -- push the envelope once again with improv singer and noise guitarist Haino. The resulting sound is a relentlessly intense cauldron of caustic power chording, adrenalized blast beats and double bass drum thunder, and grinding white noise fusillades, courtesy of this fearsome threesome.
While some might call it noise, Merzbow offered this explanation in a New York Times interview: "Noise is the unconscious of music." Together these three intrepid explorers plumb the depths of the unconscious on An Untroublesome Defencelessness, which is comprised of the three-movement suite "Why is the courtesy of the prey always confused with the courtesy of the hunters" and the four-part "How differ the instructions on the left from the instructions on the right?" And to Pandi, this outing, like all of Merzbowʼs singular sonic experiments, remains "music of great mystery."
In a post-Cage-ian world where there are no wrong notes - in fact, no notes at all, just silence and the absence of silence - the enigmatic Merzbow is a Magellan of sound, fearlessly traveling uncharted waters on each new project he undertakes (he has made over 350 recordings since 1979). Born on December 19, 1956 in Tokyo, he was originally attracted to rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed and Robert Fripp, and later was influenced by free jazz icons Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor and Frank Wright as well as electronic music pioneers like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis. "Then I found the forum for mixing these influences into pure electronic noise," he said in a 1999 interview with EsoTerra Magazine: The Journal of Extreme Culture. "I was trying to create an extreme form of music."
Merzbow has found a true kindred spirit in Pandi, who has become a kind of ʻhouse drummerʼ for RareNoiseRecords, appearing on projects by Obake, Metallic Taste of Blood and Slobber Pup as well as vibrant recordings with saxophonist Ivo Perelman (One), trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith (Red Hill) and trombonist Roswell Rudd (Strength & Power). Says the flexible drummer of his highly conversational approach with his avant garde partner Merzbow: "The chemistry between us was there right from the very beginning. Masami has been flirting with the idea of live drums on his shows for a while as he is a drummer himself, but according to him, the metal drummers were too much in the autopilot zone and jazz drummers were not intense enough and couldnʼt keep up with volume. My way of playing was fitting his music perfectly, as I play both improvised music that is changing shape all the time and heavy amplified music. We donʼt have things anchored, we just have a continuously expanding vocabulary and we pay attention to each other and find immediate hooks in each otherʼs playing."
Adds the Hungarian-born drummer, whose endurance and sheer intensity throughout An Untroublesome Defencelessness is nothing short of awesome, "I approach these live recordings with Masami and Haino as meditation and let the sound carry my body and mind through these concerts and recordings. l let my spirit take over my body rather than using power or force consciously."
Pandi explains that the remarkable versatility he has displayed on this and other RareNoise recordings, whether it's playing brushes with Wadada Leo Smith, underscoring Roswell Rudd with an African-flavored momentum or playing with slamming, full-tilt abandon with Obake and Slobber Pup, derives from his musically rich upbringing in Budapest. "When I was nine years old, I got introduced to black/death metal by a friend at music school and also started my studies as a classical percussionist. At age ten I joined a youth orchestra where we played everything from marching music to operas up to contemporary composers pieces. Because of this, I appreciated different music by itself before getting into a certain scene or genre too deep." This open-minded musical aesthetic ultimately led to the expanded vocabulary that now manifests in a variety of gigs for the versatile drummer. And he loves to mix up his wide-ranging vocabulary from session to session. As he explains, "It can be interesting sometimes to add some random blast beats to a more sensitive recording with Wadada, just as its great to figure out how to leaves spaces open in an intense musical environment to create a certain tension."
The third member of this formidable triumverate, singer-songwriter-guitarist Keiji Haino, had previously worked with Merzbow under the moniker Kikuri. The idea of collaborating with Keiji on An Untroublesome Defencelessnes goes back to 2010. As Pandi explains, "When Masami and I did a gig in Osaka back then, we threw a couple ideas back and forth and decided that it would be great to try and form a trio with Haino-san. Keiji is like an infinite well of ideas. Itʼs incredible how he can push music and sounds into new directions. Sounds coming from him have way more qualities than the ones coming from most musicians, as he uses every possible way to alternate sounds and give them extra qualities that people just donʼt know about."
And they make scintillating music together on the live-in-the-studio recording An Untroublesome Defencelessness, yet another mind-blowing addition to the burgeoning RareNoiseRecords catalog.
1. Why is the courtesy of the prey always confused with the courtesy of the hunters...(Part I)
2. Why is the courtesy of the prey always confused with the courtesy of the hunters...(Part II)
3. Why is the courtesy of the prey always confused with the courtesy of the hunters...(Part III)
4. How differ the instructions on the left from the instructions on the right? (Part I)
5. How differ the instructions on the left from the instructions on the right? (Part II)
6. How differ the instructions on the left from the instructions on the right? (Part III)
7. How differ the instructions on the left from the instructions on the right? (Part IV)
Merzbow - electronics
Keiji Haino - guitar, electronics, occasional vocals
Balazs Pandi - drums
CD, VINYL (45 RPM) AND MULTIPLE DIGITAL FORMATS AVAILABLE IN STORES AND ONLINE ON JULY 22, 2016 AND THROUGH WWW.RARENOISERECORDS.COM.
ABOUT THE LABEL - RareNoiseRecords was founded in 2008 by two Italians, entrepreneur Giacomo Bruzzo and music producer Eraldo Bernocchi. Located in London, the label's mission is to detect and amplify contemporary trends in progressive music, by highlighting their relation to the history of the art-form, while choosing not to be bound by pre-conceptions of genre. It seeks to become a guiding light for all those enamored by exciting, adventurous and progressive sounds. For further information and to listen please go to www.rarenoiserecords.com.