The grouping of Keiji Haino, Masami ‘Merzbow’ Akita and Balázs Pándi seems so inevitable it’s a surprise it didn’t preexist An Untroublesome Defencelessness. It didn’t—I believe this is the first time Haino and Pandi have played together—but Pándi often drums for Merzbow in concert, and they both play in the Cuts trio alongside saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. So the album is essentially their practiced noise/rhythm meld, plus the extra dimension of haino’s guitar and occasional electronics. Haino presumably knew how it might go, as he’s previously played duo sets with Merzbow as Kikuri, as recorded on Pulverized Purple (Victo, 2008).
An Untroublesome Defencelessness (迷惑をかけない無防備) is a studio recording: two long (approx. half-hour) suites of multiple parts, “Why is the courtesy of the prey always confused with the courtesy of the hunters…” Parts I-III, and “How differ the instructions on the left from the instructions on the right?” Parts I-IV – hereafter referenced simpy as “Courtesy” and “Instructions”.
The trio’s sound isn’t far from that of Purple Trap, Haino’s trio with Bill Laswell and Rashied Ali, albeit with Merzbow booting out Laswell’s bass and reprising the noise-as-fuel-injection roll he plays in collaborations with Japanese garage/doom metal band Boris. Pándi meanwhile beefs up Ali’s free-style polyrhythmic drumming with metal-schooled backbeat intensity. Where Purple Trap was a sometimes uneasy summit, here everyone’s more or less on the same page.
“Courtesy (Part I)” begins with slashing guitar, and blooms into noise in short order. Pandi then moderates his initial tooth-loosening rolling barrage and briefly drops out, exposing both surprisingly conventional psych-guitar licks and feedback-sensitive noise, and then reenters with backbeats as Merzbow lays out.
It’s a short (2:55), pithy intro, from which the trio leap into the cauldron of “Courtesy (Part II)” (9:50), wherein Pándi drums up a ferocious twin kick-drum storm, releasing Merzbow and Haino’s abrasive, cyclonic noise. But, again, it’s Pándi who eventually relaxes into a rolling play of toms, which eventually prompts the others to dial down too, clearing room for some spartan riffs from Haino to frame a shakedown coda, and then bridge through a brittle fizz of errant electronics to “Part III”.
This long (13:51) last ‘movement’ of “Courtesy” is an otherworldly, static-charged seethe of Merz-noise, into which Haino injects serried, denatured riffs. Only Pándi’s tightly-wound drumming maintains a constant pulsing affirmation of strength and stamina. And it’s Pándi who dictates the half-hour’s thunderous climax over a false summit, anticipating Haino’s final twitchy paroxysm of fretwork pyrotechnics.
“How differ the instructions on the left from the instructions on the right?” is less rhythmic and more abstract. Its opening movement, “Part I” (5:27), has the ecstatic, fraying and flagging intensity that usually comes at the end, not the beginning, of a high octane improvisation. Haino grinds out some raw, excoriating licks, but the initial surge of life ebbs to silence.
“Instructions (Part 2)” (8:55) has more of Haino’s lacerating chordal minimalism, but it’s carried by Pándi’s locomotive tribal polyrhythms. Merzbow’s noise forms a kind of background scurf, most notable for it’s absence when temporarily suppressed, and then as bandsaw-electronica boring its way out and continuing behind Haino’s strained and seemingly deranged vocal imprecations on “Part 3” (6:13).
When Haino’s through his prose boutade, we hear something like a ram’s horn blaring through a tumultuous percussive roil sheathed in Merzbow’s electronic miasma.
“Instructions (Part 4)” (7:50) begins anew, with a relatively restrained drums solo. Pándi has certainly earned the right to highlight the subtlety that tempers his typically gargantuan sound. Akita and Haino, now playing theremin-like airFX, both wreath and mute Pándi’s ongoing rolls, which fade in one channel while tumbling afresh from another, and it’s their pitch-yawing electronica that ultimately flips the improvisation into silence.
All in, a variously intense selection of heated, arc-weld improvisations – a wholly convincing fusion of jazz, noise and outsider rock that impressively one-ups Merzbow and Pandi’s road-tested synthesis of rhythm and noise.
Merzbow noise; Keiji Haino guitar, air synth; Balázs Pándi drums.
Akira Sakata & Jim O’Rourke with Chikamorachi & Merzbow – Flying Basket.
Merzbow Gustafsson Pándi Moore – Cuts Of Guilt, Cuts Deeper.
Merzbow Gustafsson Pándi – Cuts.
Nazoranai – The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has it Arrived Already..?
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