AMN Reviews: Merzbow / Keiji Haino / Balazs Pandi – Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (2019; RareNoiseRecords)

This unusual trio is back for a sophomore effort, following up on 2016’s An Untroublesome Defencelessness. Legendary noise artist Merzbow is joined by sludge guitar maestro Haino and drummer Balazs Pandi (who may be the most underrated percussionist on the planet). Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer allows these iconoclasts to explore for almost 70 minutes.

Recorded 100% live in the studio, Haino also contributes bass, electronics and occasional vocals, and Merzbow plugs in a second guitar from time to time. While the two are hard to distinguish at first, Haino focuses on overdriven, ponderous riffing punctuated by feedback, while Merzbow provides textures, bent notes, and speed-picking interspersed with his electronics. Unsurprisingly, the two blend and merge their sounds into a brutal assault of sharp angles and square waves. Pandi’s aggressive and often arhythmic drumming never lets up on the pace, keeping the tempo moving even when the other two proceed at a more deliberate pace. If anything, he keeps his bandmates grounded, to the extent that is possible with this form of extreme free improv.

One of the more interesting moments of this release is when Haino switches to bass and Merzbow plays psychedelic guitar lines in I Want to Learn how to Feel Everything in Each Single Breath I.  The group thus forms a traditional power trio in instrumentation if not in output. Rather than all-out improv, the group tones it down a bit for a moody and darkly introspective interlude.

If you like a shot of dissonance in your evening drink, the fuzzed out, wigged out, walls of distorted guitar offered on Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer will provide that, and much more. Merzbow, Haino, and Pandi also manage to maintain an attention-grabbing freshness throughout this lengthy release. As such, it should be no surprise that the album comes highly recommended.

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