Merzbow vs Nordvargr - Partikel III [Cold Spring Records - 2013]Partikel III is the third and final part of the Merzbow/Nordvargr collaboration that began nine years ago. All three Partikel releases have been on the well known and respected Cold Spring label, which is very fitting for a collab between two experimental music giants. This release, like the two before it, was recorded in both Sweden and Japan and the resulting recordings were sent to the other for the addition of their own sound. A collab done in this style leads to a subtle but noticeable difference in song composition, while keeping a similar tone throughout.
As I haven't really been interested in Merzbow's output for the past ten or so years, I haven't heard the first two Partikel releases. My time off has allowed me to listen to a newer sound for its own merits instead of getting angry that it isn't Pulse Demon. That's not to say that I'm going to listen to new Merzbow, but rather that Partikel III was very enjoyable. The first two tracks were recorded by Nordvargr and sent to Merzbow for additional sounds. "Heterotic String Hybrid" begins with a soft, screeching noise with dance-like drums up in front. This grooves and grows for a while before breaking down into something more experimental. It gets a bit spacey with low drones and higher pulsed swells. This is followed by "Lorentz Covariance." The distant, spacey delay continues on this track. It's slow, brooding, dark, and distant. There is a slow build up of noise that helps to thicken the mix and sets the stage for the bass beat and synth attack that finishes it out. "Submaton Color pt 1" and its sequel follow. They flow together seamlessly and should be thought of as one track. Dissonant synth drones play host to what can only be a modular synth break dancing. The higher tones eventually shift to a lower drone and oscillation with higher noodling above. Hypnotic at some points, "Submaton Color" follows the spacey vibe of the first two tracks. The juxtaposition between the lower drone and the high, floating synth is nice, but the low end is the true winner.
Partikel III is 45+ minutes of interesting electronic collaboration between two artists with different approaches. While beat driven from time to time, its subtle, noisy ambiance and spacey delay hearkens to Dove Yellow Swans - Live During War Crimes. This album is very listenable and definitely exceeded my expectations. Sheeit, I may have to go back and check out the first two!Paul Casey