Gareth Davis & Merzbow ‎– Atsusaku

gd_merzbow

[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]

Listening to Merzbow is always an enduring trip into what your senses can bear. It seems that age hasn’t tamed his radical and excessive use of sound. M. Akita is one of a rough kind; he draws his power and energy from noise, like Antaeus drew strength from his contact with the earth, Gaia, his mother.

But what about Gareth Davis? I heard of him as being the live bass clarinet on Oiseaux-Tempête and from his collaboration with Machinenfabriek and Elliot Sharp. His contrabass clarinet versions of various pieces are becoming examples of haute cuisine tasted by a selected audience.

What could therefore have come out of this apparently incongruous hybridization between an experimental clarinetist and a harsh noise-manipulator? It is the Dutch label Moving Furniture Records that released this new breed of musicality – considered new only when based on the fact of the two artists collected together in one aural unit. The two-piece disc is a thrilling, unrelenting extreme-electronics indulgence. At least “Haihan”, the first track on the disc, escalates our common noise-lover expectations and simply captures the senses into a web of continuous harsh-noise epiphanies.

The label notifies that Davis had the idea to have his sounds compressed and pressured by the textures of M. Akita, thus the name of the record, “Atsusaku” (mechanical compression). It is likely then that the Japanoiser uses the clarinet of the Belgian artist as a sound source and amplifies the bass lines to the point of non-recognition, while maintaining intact, in the manner of a good clinician, the essence of the clarinet sound. Or perhaps we are partaking to a trip into the unconscious of the clarinet, a classical instrument by all means, and trying to bring to the surface its dark side, the unthinkable possibilities of expression this instrument (or any other) never had.

Back to Gareth Davis, it has to be mentioned he is a remarkable and much appreciated musician, who performed under the baguette of Sir Simon Rattle, studied with Luciano Berio, and was strongly involved with the so-called New Music or contemporary underground (we must take note here of his work with Nadja or the electronic composer Scanner).

This record should be classified as part of his insatiable need to explore the potential of sound and music. The second track from “Atsusaku”, “Kyouhan”, is more lengthy and more spacious, a slower noise section with a sensitivity to calmness and warm unruliness, underpinned here and there by the imp of the perverse.

“Atsusaku” has an unmistakable sense of impending beauty; it is a scintillating work of noise that makes you think that noise music of such aplomb should take its place among the avant-garde of classic music.

Gareth Davis & Merzbow ‎– Atsusaku
Moving Furniture Records, MFR031
LP 2016

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