Merzbow/Genesis Breyer P-Orridge - A Perfect Pain(20th Anniversary Edition) [Cold Spring Records - 2018]Originally released in 1999, Cold Spring has brought back the collaboration between scene legends Merzbow and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge for a third issue. Not only available in an 8-page digipak, but A Perfect Pain is now on vinyl for the first time. With both black and limited flaxen gold versions available on 180g vinyl, new purchasers and those looking to upgrade have nice options in front of them. In addition to the new packaging and vinyl issue, Cold Spring has had both versions of this 20th anniversary remastered by The Cage Studios. This upgrade in both sound quality and packaging shows Cold Spring's dedication not only to releasing new sonic mayhem, but also ensuring that their classic catalog titles sound and look their best
Recorded during a very divisive period of Merzbow's career, A Perfect Pain shows a more restrained side of the Japanese noise master playing along with the sometimes creepy, sometimes theatrical vocals of Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P-Orridge. Kind of a fuzzy, mixed bag, A Perfect Pain feels like someone playing two different records at the same time far more often than if feels like a collaboration. This makes some sense, too, as Genesis did his parts in the London and Merzbow did his parts in Tokyo. However, long distance collaborations can work, and there was plenty of technology around in 1999 that would allow the two artists to better grasp what the other was doing. That's not to say that they didn't, but this record certainly feels like two separate recordings smashed together. High pitched, industrial squeal over what sounds like leftover samples from earlier Merzbow releases seems to be the M.O. for this album (one can't help but think that the looped drum breaks are remnants from Door Open at 8 AM). The vocals tend to get blurred a bit, and that works to the album's advantage. When garbled and tougher to understand, there is a creepy, menacing vibe that works well within the industrial constraints. However, the spoken word work tends to be on display too much and is fairly distracting. Couple this with the very disjointed backing track, and A Perfect Pain lives up to its name.
Merzbow and Genesis P-Orridge's A Perfect Pain is getting a third, deluxe issue from Cold Spring this year. Strange that such a muddled mishmash of an album has seen so many reissues, but I guess considering the names attached, it's to be expected. Criticism of the album aside, Cold Spring has put out a nice reissue on varied formats so fans of that do enjoy this album have plenty of upgrade options.Paul Casey