Japan’s noise master Merzbow is one of the most insanely prolific artists alive today. Indeed, some times it can seem overwhelming trying to keep up to date (this year has seen the release of 2 mammoth 10 disc boxsets, ‘Merzphysics’ and ‘Merzmorphosis’) but this new split release with the equally fascinating Actuary should be high on your list of records to check out. But don’t just take our word for it, here’s a great review of it from Grind to Death’s Alex Layzell –
As we have come to expect from Merzbow, the music (and I use the term loosely) is not designed with the express idea of belonging to any specific form or to appease the listener, it’s purely a complete experiment in pushing the boundaries of mankind’s command of sound and as such appeals to those of inquisitive mind sets for whom satisfaction is not derived directly from the listening, but in the attempt to unravel its inner workings and abstract meanings of this enigma of digital manipulation. Ultimately it is an endless task with no conclusion, yet a realisation that fails to shake the determination of the listener from repeating the process in the hopes of being that one step closer to the answer. Such is the beauty of Merzbow.
There are several exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime collaborative performances taking place at this year’s Supersonic, ranging from Lash Frenzy’s all-star noise ensemble to KK Null’s performance with local tuba-drone pioneers ORE, and of course, the pairing of several string, woodwind and brass musicians with Eugene S. Robinson and Niko Wenner for the much anticipated Oxbow Orchestra. There must be something about the adventurous atmosphere of Supersonic, as the festival has a long history of inspiring musicians to step out of their comfort zones and join forces with one another to contribute something truly special to the festival. Indeed, these one-off spectacles and collaborations are part of what makes the festival so unique, and have provided avid concert goers with a veritable smörgåsbord of cherished memories over the years. Here are just a few of the highlights – which one was your favourite?
2011 – Fire! & Oren Ambarchi
Last year’s edition of the festival saw Swedish avant-jazz trio Fire! team up with Australia’s finest purveyor of drones (and frequent Sunn O))) collaborator) Oren Ambarchi, for an enthralling set that touched on noise, jazz, and musique concrète with the kind of subtle elegance and deft textural sensibility we’ve come to expand from these fine musicians. Evidently these guys enjoyed the performance as much as the audience did, as Fire! recruited Ambarchi once again for their third album, ‘In The Mouth – A Hand’, which was released last year.
2010 – Lash Frenzy VS KK Null
When these two noise titans clashed together two years ago, the results were akin to a nuclear bomb detonation, obliterating all in its path (it’s rumoured that there are still children being born in Digbeth with tinnitus to this very day). Holding the honour of being one of Supersonic’s loudest ever performances (and, as those who have attended the festival before will attest, this is certainly no small feat!), the Library was packed to the rafters for this one-off show, with a lengthy queue of dedicated noise addicts stretching around the block. Be sure to get there early for this year’s special performances to avoid listening from outside!
Providing some respite from the ear-bleeding antics of the aforementioned duo, 2010 also found Iraqi Oud virtuoso Khyam Allami teaming up with mysterious psych-rock collective Master Musicians of Bukkake for this exclusive performance. Named after the Bosphorus Strait that divides East and West, Europe and Asia, this was an extremely diverse set that sought to bridge musical schisms, joining Allami’s meditative Eastern melodies with the Master Musicians’ penchant for acid fried jams, taking the audience on an aural pilgrimage to the furthest regions of their collective psyche and sounding rather fantastic in the process.
2008 –Kikuri, feat. Merzbow & Keiji Haino
The pairing of two of Japan’s most extreme musical exports was never going to make for easy listening, but nothing could have prepared us for the deafening onslaught produced by these masters of their respective crafts. Masami Akita’s torrential outbursts of static and rich, layered walls of feedback provided the perfect counterpoint to Haino’s chilling, ethereal wail and guitar mangling histrionics, resulting in an eclectic and vibrant set that’s often spoken of in hushed tones by Supersonic veterans.
2007 – Oxbow Duo Presents: Love’s Holiday Orchestra
When Oxbow’s Eugene & Niko performed at the festival 5 years ago, they brought along an all-star ensemble (featuring Godflesh/Jesu mastermind Justin Broadrick, Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and ex-Head Of David bassist David Cochrane) for an unforgettable and thrillingly intimate set, never to be repeated again (but fear not – Oxbow will be returning this year with a small orchestra in tow, and Justin Broadrick will also be putting in an appearance with his new JK Flesh project).
The performance was captured on tape and released on wax as part of Capsule’s limited edition vinyl series. Unfortunately all 1000 copies are long sold out, but there are still a number of great releases available, chronicling Supersonic sets from the likes of Harvey Milk, Tweak Bird and Iron Lung – the perfect way to relive those Supersonic memories and keep your excitement under control during the wait for this year’s edition!
Lash Frenzy return to this year’s festival to present ‘Vir Heroicus Sublimis’.Celebrating a decade of Supersonic, Lash Frenzy will be taking inspiration from their own decade’s worth of performances and throwing them into a blender, along with your brain. Whatever comes out is whatever comes out, so expect everything and expect nothing. All we know for sure is that there’s more than one person involved and less than 1000. Featuring members of Anaal Nathrackh, Beestung Lips, Benediction, Sally, Einstellung.
If you weren’t able to get in to the Lash Frenzy vs KK Null performance at Supersonic 2010, then make sure you don’t miss out twice!
This performance is one of a number of special collaborations taking place at the tenth edition of the festival.
After Supersonic closes down on Saturday night, you’ll be too excited to go to bed of course. So why not spend the night in Eastside Projects (bring your own sleeping bag)? Christian Jendreiko and Andrew Moscardo-Parker will be performing a 24-hour guitar & stringed instrument performance from 9pm on Saturday to 9pm on Sunday.
Scored and performed by the Dusseldorf based Jendreiko (also of Apparent Extent label fame) and Birmingham based Moscardo-Parker of Einstellung and Lash Frenzy, the two artists will work with various performers from Birmingham, the UK and Europe to produce an ever-evolving, deep listening experience. Following on from Jendreiko’s 7-hour performance of GOTTESRAUSCHEN (GOD’S WHITE NOISE) : Action for Players, Guitars and Amplifiers in 2010 that coincided with Supersonic 2010, this will be an immersive and exploratory event allowing listeners to lose all sense of themselves.
9pm – 9pm : Saturday 22nd – Sunday 23rd October
Eastside Projects | 86 Heath Mill Lane | B9 4AR
9pm – 9pm 22- 23 October
86 Heath Mill Lane B9 4AR
This new performance commissioned by Capsule and Eastside Projects is a collaboration between artist Christian Jendreiko (responsible for last years Gods White Noise live installation) and Andrew Moscardo-Parker (aka Lash Frenzy). Together they will be exploring the action of both playing and what is actually being played over a 24 hour period, allowing for the piece to develop and evolve naturally.
Christian and Andrew will be joined by a core group of string players along with a few ‘special’ guests. What will be created will be truly unique!