Merzbow | Genesis P-Orridge ‎– A Perfect Pain

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[Reviewed by Iaha Crax]

Cold Spring released this album back in 1999. Masami Akita did the composition in his “Bedroom”, in Tokyo, and P-Orridge recorded and added his voice at Waxy Yellow Build Up Studios, in NYC. It was the start of an intriguing collaboration between two pillars of the industrial scene. Mainly it is Akita who imagined the whole album under a possible spiritual guidance from P-Orridge. The spoken lyrics are to be found inside the CD and they are a sincere reflection upon existence from P-Orridge’s point of view.

The opening track, lasting only about 3 minutes, is called “A Perfect Restraint” and it consists of a calm electro-noise meditation. The parental speech allegorically shows that unaltered possession can only be attained from a perfect restraint. Besides his work with Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV as well as his art performances, P-Orridge is known as an esoteric researcher, his personal philosophy imbuing everything he creates in terms of art.

The second track, “Flowering Pain Given Space”, begins at a slow pace, curiously enough when it comes from Masami Akita, with schizoid down-tuned harsh frequencies pointing at some circus clown movements. P-Orridge’s declamations have a children’s storyteller tonality, but he tells about how pain, when freed from mental chains, can open a new range of psychic possibilities. Once the speech ends, the music liberates itself and becomes more articulated, forming an intelligent analogy with the message of the narrator. You can detect here a complementary displacement from the hindrance of both word and cognition, which takes a coherent and solid shape through music. Thus, the pain-like noise is overcome and reshaped into organized space that makes affliction disappear.

It’s so curious how easily you sink into the next song. Generally, after a Merzbow track you would need some time to regain strength, but here Akita seems to have undergone a taming process. You can hardly find the road to “Source Are Rare”, as the track is a delicate electronic flux holding an exploding pressure that bears a sadistic impact upon the nerves. Moreover, the whispering narration resembles an omniscient writer speaking to his slave-character in a devilish rhyme with a subharmonic default of rhythm. For a short period, voices are portraying a mischievous hunter with a desire to tire his prey through different corridors of the mind before grabbing it, and then the track progressively gains in velocity and rhythm. Uniform sounds take over rhythm and turn into slashing pounds of wall-noise, from where lightly-colored buzzing seems to break from time to time. These once free progressive waves are soon tamed by a trippy computerized drumming, that perhaps intends to take the listener out of the labyrinth. Yet when the drums stop, the wall of noise crumbles upon the listener in innumerable feed-backs. Irregularly the drum beat appears again like a grin of hope, and the track ends in this circus-like atmosphere, giving you the feeling that you have nothing to be sure of anymore.

After 25 minutes of breathless atmospheric sound textures, there comes the 5 minute track “Kreeme Horn”,that continues the burlesque manner found in the former track, in a danceable noisy ambient quite fit for a tragicomic show. The voice is a hybrid between Devil Doll and Coil, whispered with the tongue of a snake and reminiscent of the homonym album by Throbbing Gristle, a text “upon the grotesque”.

A massive collapse of flashing, abrasive noise drones with sharp hissings attack the ears in the opening of “All Beauty Is Our Enemy”. Words comment upon the decay of the modern world and its impact on us – the “molecular ugliness that made You and I”. The title immediately brought to my mind Mishima’s novel “The Golden Pavilion”, inspired by a Zen monk who burnt down an old pavilion for the sole and curious reason that “he hated beauty”. What has beauty to do in this world where “We are mere accidents of/ Nature and nature has no intention, no/ Morality, no sentiment, no love.” As the intention derived from P-Orridge’s lyrics outspoken in a sarcastic highly lascivious manner, Mishima’s character uses the image of the temple as a symbol of beauty in order to fill an empty and senseless existence. What can he do to get over the illusion of beauty, if not annihilate the symbol of beauty itself? Complementary, P-Orridge reaches the same conclusion: “Survival by assimilation / Survival by annihilation/Survival by abomination/Survival by ejaculation”. The backing ambiance works in fine juxtaposition with the metaphorical commentary managing to infuse this sense of finding yourself at the margin of comprehension by means of deep, touching, cutting electronics. Alas, complete understanding is fruitless and only its experimentation sees you beyond (yourself).

I might just be speechless after this record. It can be exhausting as after finishing an intriguing novel. You can just hear it and then throw it away. “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him!”

Merzbow / Genesis P-Orridge ‎– A Perfect Pain
CD, 1999
Cold Spring, CSR23CD

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