Not often does a release promoted as “mind-blowing” live up to the hype. But don’t put it past the quartet of Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson, Balazs Pandi, and Thurston Moore to disappoint in any of their efforts, much less this one. A veritable supergroup, this latest “Cuts” project tops out at 80 minutes of improvised, foundation-shaking noise.
A followup to the 2013 trio release from Merzbow, Gustafsson, and Pandi (see our review here), the incorporation of Moore adds a whole new dimension to the group’s sound. In addition to Gustafsson’s wailing, which often merges indecipherably with Merzbow’s walls of sound, Moore adds distorted speed-picking and atmospherics to the mix. Pandi proves once again to the be the perfect drummer for this unique type of free improvisation, as he uses his drum kit to provide an ominous pounding that shifts with the thick, twisting structures produced by the other three.
This sort of music does is not amenable to written or verbal description, as it is a collage from which the contribution of individual instruments are difficult to discern. Likewise, describing each track individually is not only difficult, but probably misses the point. Cuts is a textural project, an amalgam of pulsating fields that goes beyond feedback and dissonance. Gustafsson aptly described the recording as “a wall of noise-poetry with layers and perspectives changing all the time.”
Call it what you want – extreme noise, industro-metal, far-flung free-jazz – labels are marginally helpful. Regardless of categorization, or the lack thereof, these four not-so-gentle men have produced an early candidate for album of the year.