AMN Reviews: Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida / Masami Akita [Merzbow] – Process and Reality (2016; Cuneiform Records)

Over the last 40 years, guitarist Richard Pinhas has left a varied trail of recordings, from the progressive rock of Heldon, to his early synth-laden solo efforts, to more recent experimental partnerships with Merzbow, Wolf EyesPeter FrohmaderPascal Comelade, and others. Cuneiform Records, which has released or re-released the majority of Pinhas’s catalog, will be putting out his two latest collaborations on September 16. Below, we discuss the first.

 

Here, Pinhas teams with drummer-extraordinaire Yoshida (from Ruins and Koenjihyakkei among many other outfits) and noise-maestro Merzbow. This is the fifth time Pinhas and Merzbow have worked together in the studio, and the second grouping of Pinhas with Yoshida, though this trio has toured extensively in Japan.

In short, this recording is a quartet of aggressive, spaced-out sessions. It would not surprise anyone familiar with Yoshida’s style to hear that he attempts to fill every moment with a percussive event of some type. In contrast to his overt hyper-intensiveness, Pinhas and Merzbow set forth atmospherics and texture. They weave walls of sound in which it can be hard to tell where one begins and the other leaves off, especially given Pinhas’s use of synth guitar, and well as Merzbow employing a slightly more restrained style than usual.

Consisting of four tracks, one short at about 3 minutes and the others ranging from 10 to 36, Process and Reality can, at times have a Krautrock feel. But these jams, if they can even be referred to as such, do not focus on long guitar solos, for instance. Pinhas instead provides short, disjointed themes and colorful clusters of notes.

Thematically, the album fits into Pinhas’s vision of dystopia – a dark industrial age. With 2016 being a year that has seen so much ugliness – politically, socially, economically – it is hard to fault the artist who reflects these factors in his music. However, despite the foreboding nature of this recording, Process and Reality is a highly enjoyable effort, and requires multiple listenings to pry apart the details.

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