Merzbow / Cris X - Guya / Greed [CX Records - 2011]Before I get into reviewing this split Lp, I think I have to mention that Cristiano/Cris X is a friend of mine. We've toured, played, recorded, harassed girls and ate pizza many times together. So take this review with a pitch of salt if you wish. And I'll try to be as objective as I can.
This Merzbow/Cris X split LP presents itself in very academic and clean style: white cover with simple gothic writing in black, printed internal sleeve with all infos, white lp with simple central labels. It's pretty much the same style as the previous Maurizio Bianchi/Cris X LP, so we can assume that it will be a constant house style for this new italian label.
Merzbow's side, “Guya” is much better than expected. For once, there are no boring animal meat is murder thematics. At least no obvious ones. The often dull and empty looping so common in early 2000s Merzbow here is left in the background as complement, while metal junk bashing and piercing feedback reign supreme. I suspect Masami Akita is using his “steel guitar” instrument on this record, and it's a good thing. Analog and digital sounds melt together quite well, and the piece is plain, pleasurable harsh noise. We need more of this of course! “Guya” is still steps behind the harsh noise masterpieces of 90s Merzbow like Pulse Demon or Artificial Invagination, but this is definitely going in the right direction and one where the absolute king of the genre feels comfortable.
Cris X's side is completely different in intent and realization. It's mostly dark ambient/experimental music, which is not exactly my cup of tea. The sounds are very refined, clear and there's lots of variation in volume and timbre, while the whole side of the LP remains very coherent. Haunting piano and japanese vocals by Keiko Higuchi steal the scene in the second track, with Cris X's synth work in the background, unfortunately almost ignored and overcome by her sounds.
The last track sees the contribution of Sachiko (Vava Kitora, Kousokuya, Overhang Party) at electronics and vocals, and it's more of the same: dark, psychedelic, cinematic and bleak ambient. This italian/japanese cult underground melting pot is good, but it's nothing that will make you jump from your seat.
“Guya/Greed” is a professional, quality academic work but maybe also because of this it fails to break into this rotten harsh noise heart. Recommended to japanese improvisation underground followers and obviously to fans of Merzbow, who is here in very good muscular shape.Nicola Vinciguerra