Merzbow & Balázs Pándi - Live At Fac251 [Cold Spring Records - 2016]As this releases title suggest what we have here is live album, which brings together Japans master of noise Merzbow, and Hungarian drummer Balázs Pándi. The CD offers up a single forty four minute set that sits somewhere between harsh noise, jazz noise, brutal jam craft, and seared psychedelic texturing.
The set on offer here was recorded in Manchester last September at the venue Fac251. With the whole show been mastered by respected noise ‘n’ drone maker Martin Bowes of Skullflower. The CD comes in a slim-line gatefold, which takes in pictures of the outside of the venue, and black & white pictures of both of the participants in full live flow.
Since 2009 this pair has played more than a few duo shows together, as well as releasing three joint albums too. So when you go into this you’ll know that both players are well versed in each other's ways of operating. And what you get here is basically an extremely seared ‘n’ scorching jam session- blending together Merzbow’s roasting, and violently cascading noise craft. With Pándi propulsive, shifting, at times detailed percussive work.
The forty-four-minute set is presented as just a single track. The set opens with a male voice asking “Are we all ok on stage”, then with-in less than a minute we’re thrown into the sonic searing heat of the pairs set. To start with we get a blend of scorching ‘n’ forking noise haze, which is swirling ‘n’ burning with higher pitched twists of psychedelic noise. Behind this, we have a mix of rapid pummelling ‘n’ galloping percussive power coming from the drum kit, and it almost sounds like Pándi could take off with the battering & abuse he’s giving his kit. At points, the drums suddenly disappear, as the noise overwhelms everything, but fairly soon Pándi reappears again with both brutal-yet-detailed series of runs & fills. There doesn’t seem to be a terrible of amount of shape or firm structure present for most of the track's runtime, but what you do clearly get is the pair playing off against each other, or following each other lead- so there is no one leader here, as they are seemingly playing equally as leads.
For most of the track's runtime the noise is very full & amassed in both its feel & shape. Sure at times we do get thinner single strands appearing- but these are soon replaced by more searing tangles of harsh noise. The only time things become a little more streamlined & structured happen around the twenty-minute mark when a persistent electronica purr/ throbbing is added in the mix- but this is only evident for around five or so minutes, then we’re back into the seared mass again. And in the last ten or so minutes there’s almost a tunneling space churn underlying the whole thing, but sadly this is never defined enough to fully change the tracks character.
I guess you really have to enjoy the more jam based, seared impov, and brutal jazz side of things to enjoy this set. If you’re a fan of Merzbow’s more formal, and less percussive work- I don’t think you’ll get much from this, as there is little shape or form here, and the whole thing is mainly an all out searing attack. Personally, I found the set certainly exhilarating & intense- though I do wish maybe there had been more subtle interplay, or obvious shifts between the all out & amassed attacks, which seem to take up most of the length of the set.