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Gareth
Davis & Merzbow: Atsusaku (Moving Furniture)

If
I didn’t know any better, if someone put Atsusaku on, I’d have
immediately assumed it was another Merzbow album, but I’d only be
half right. Gareth Davis collaborated with Masami Akita to make these
two sprawling cuts of blistering noise, and there’s a little more to
them than meets the ears. While Merzbow’s influence as a noise
sculptor for the past 3+ decades is undeniable in the world of
experimental sound, I hate to admit that after sampling more than a
few dozen of his albums, they certainly are not all essential. There
is only so much screeching feedback that one can take, after all (Mr.
Akita himself excluded, obviously!). But as with most difficult art,
the process is just as compelling as (or more so, even) than the
finished product. Consider Davis’s involvement, contributing a
variety of reed sounds (bass and contrabass clarinet) as well as
electronics. On headphones, it’s a true scorcher, and while a big
wall of screeching detritus is nothing special from the likes of
Merzbow, there are still some truly impressive passages wherein the
stereo noise threatens to swallow you whole from the inside out.

Atsusaku by Gareth Davis & Merzbow

Davis’s playing is far from obvious, and I can only assume that he
provided the source material that eventually led to the sonic pile-on
of Atsusaku; his playing has been obfuscated through cascading layers
of distortion, noise, and mayhem. And yet the result is effective as
ever, both in Merzbow’s continued challenging of convention and
emphasis on “difficult” listening as well as the further blurring
of genres, inspiration, and what it means to be “musical.” As
with many Merzbow and noise releases, I somehow doubt that I will be
returning to it often, but I think his continued output, whether solo
or with collaborators such as Davis, pushing far out beyond their
usual repertoires or limits, is of great significance as a contrast
to the often banal, pre-packaged, and neutered music that is spoon
fed to the masses on far too regular a basis. In that sense, this is
almost ant-entertainment, but I prefer to think of it as visceral
audio sculpture, borrowing in spirit from Davis’s jazz roots and yet
scintillating with the same unfiltered fury that has made Masami
Akita a legend in the world of noise as art.

Buy it: Moving Furniture Records