Merzbow marathon: Merzbow and Richard Pinhas – Keio Line

Merzbow & Richard Pinhas: Keio Line
Cuneiform Records (2008)

There’s a whole Yellow Swans thing going on here, the way ingredients are added bit-by-bit and mixed into a gooey molasses. Pinhas’ chiming guitar reminds me a lot of those earlier Yellow Swans records too.

That reference aside, goddamn there are some beautiful frequencies, tones and sparkly sonics across the two discs, six tracks that make up Keio Line. Each composition breaks the twenty-minute mark and is given plenty of scope to slowly, ever so slowly unfurl at a painstaking pace. They build up to crisp glaciers of nothing and leave you hankering for more. Keio Line seems like an apt title for this record. The reference to Japan’s maze-like underground railway system is a visual that compliments the looping lines of guitar and electronics.

Merzbow shows immense restraint though out, relying on distant rumbles and gurgling electronics to cushion Pinhas’ compressed, sustained, distorted, modulated and overdubbed guitars. Mr Akita could easily have melted the face off Pinhas, but the subtlety shown by both musicians creates fantastic tension as their ‘instruments’ push and pull against each other for pride of place. Mr Akita obviously admires Pinhas prog rock roots and is more than willing to let the man’s guitar soar. I can totally imagine Pinhas soloing somewhere on Aqua Necromancer.

I haven’t heard Merzbow sound this restrained since he collaborated with Boris on Sun Baked Snow Cave, and even that was a doomier affair than Keio Line. Why doesn’t Merzbow explore this territory more often? He has an insurmountable number of abrasive releases to his name – and yes, there is variety among them – but surely this is a facet of noise he could delve into further.

Sometimes I struggle with Merzbow’s multi-disc releases, but whenever I put Keio Line on I lose myself and it’s over way too soon. I’ve read rumours that the pair will release some live collaborations on Cuneiform Records later this year, to compliment their collaborative effort with Wolf Eyes released on the same label in 2010. I need to hunt all that shit down.

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2 responses to “Merzbow marathon: Merzbow and Richard Pinhas – Keio Line

  1. noisenoisenoise

    That new record is out now. Its called crystal something or other

  2. Pingback: Merzbow Marathon: F.I.D. | Evol Kween: The Musical

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