AMN Reviews: Merzbow / Mats Gustafsson / Balazs Pandi – Cuts (2013, Rare Noise Records)

Mats Gustafsson
Mats Gustafsson (Photo credit: neofob)

While Japanese noise-maven Merzbow is a prolific solo artist, his best work of late seems to be coming from his group efforts. This release, which also features Gustafsson on sax and clarinet, and Pandi on drums, is a case in point.

Free-improv groupings can be hit or miss. The individual players might sound like a bunch of people making random noises for an hour, or they might come together to build something more. Often, the difference between these two outcomes is subtle. However, Cuts falls squarely into the latter camp.

Merzbow provides the expected drones and walls of sound, and well as scraping and engine noises. Gustafsson adds his blowing and squealing to this mix, while Pandi’s drumming complements the others, but shifts the overall sound to encompass something of a free-jazz feel. Often Merzbow and Gustafsson blend together to the point where it is difficult to tell them apart. For instance, “Evil Knives. Lines.” begins with Merzbow squelching over drum rolls, and then Gustafsson brings in some high-pitched wails. The track evolves into a shifting post-apocalyptic soundscape with all three group members playing an all-out noise collage.

Another fine release from veterans Merzbow and Gustafsson, while Pandi adds to his growing resume.