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Various Artists - Supernova 2 [Interstellar Records - 2009]

Nothing like a good various-artists compilation to broaden the horizons and clean out the ears. Play some of ‘em loud enough and you can clean out the ears permanently, which was at least partly on my mind when I saw that Interstellar Records’ Supernova 2 sported a Merzbow track. It has a few other good reasons to exist apart from that, though.

Among those reasons is the opener, Bulbul (with Heima Wallner)’s “Grand Kratzsche”, a widely-spaced clangor of guitars and percussion. Not the greatest, but it develops an odd mournfulness that reminds me more than anything else of the gloomy smoldering of Miles Davis’s “He Loved Him Madly”. Pipe this one loud while in the house alone, or on headphones for the best possible effect, and draw your own comparisons.

Then comes Merzbow’s “1339” (check the running time of the track for any hints into the significance of the title). Even Merzbow’s throwaway tracks are good ones, and this is no exception; it’s his usual grinding loops of noise, orchestrated and played off with consummate skill. Nobody else currently sucking oxygen has the ability to throw down a landslide of noise and yet at the same time give you the impression he’s exerting complete, disciplined control over the whole thing. The way this track’s developed brings to mind pieces from Merzbuddha or Yoshinotsune, although it’s a bit more anonymous than either of those two records.

Next, Croatian band Peach Pit brings us three jangly, jazzy, herky-jerky bits of post-everything rock: “Vertigo”, “O Biciklizmu” and “Ru-Fruitcake2”. I originally wrote these off as competent but hardly inspired, but they hold up a lot better on repeat listening than I thought. The band’s got charm and authority in their playing, and these songs aren’t noisy or dissonant for its own sake. (Obligatory Other Band Reference: a politer Zeni Geva sans vocals.)

The worst have been saved for last, as the only duff tracks on the disc are the closers: Wolfgang Fuchs’s “Laurenz” and “Rundschau”, which sound like surface noise and … surface noise with some analog squeal. Sorry, but this is not the return of CM von Hausswolff. Back of the class with you.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Serdar Yegulalp
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