AMN Reviews: Richard Pinhas / Merzbow / Wolf Eyes – Victoriaville Mai 2011

A collaboration of the legendary Richard Pinhas (of Heldon fame) and Japanese noise artist Merzbow would be worthy of note. Add in Wolf Eyes, the trio of Mike Connelly, John Olson, and Nathan Young, and you have the potential for a truly chaotic sonic assault. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, this quintet provides a symphonic soundscape that maintains a slow boil.

Recorded live at FIMAV 2011, the release consists of a 48-minute performance, followed by a 9-minute encore. Unlike some examples of the “noise” genre, Pinhas and company avoid a free-form blowout that smacks of randomness. Instead, each piece has a beginning, a middle and an end. But that doesn’t mean that the result is easy listening by any stretch. The only recognizable instruments are the occasional guitar from Pinhas or Connelly, as well as Olson’s sax. But these contributions blend into a shifting, changing backdrop of electronics. While the performance was likely improvised to an extent, the result comes across as partially premeditated. Thus, each musician is given room to stretch, but not to excess. In particular, Merzbow is reigned in, and takes a more rhythmic, background role.

While the result is ominous and dark, it is never unpleasant to the ears. Jarring at times, but not acerbic. In a way, this release is a sum of its parts. If you are a fan of Pinhas, Wolf Eyes, and the mellower side of Merzbow, you won’t be surprised. But you will be pleased.

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