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Richard Pinhas & Merzbow: Rhizome

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Another outing by Richard Pinhas (French guitar and electronics legend) and Merzbow (Japanese noise maestro). This time it's a live performance!

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RICHARD PINHAS & MERZBOW: Rhizome (CD & DVD on Cuneiform Records)

This release from 2011 offers 64 minutes of gritty electronic auralscapes on the CD, while the DVD is (presumably) the same length. All was recorded live at the Sonic Circuits Festival at La Maison Francaise in Washington DC on September 24, 2010.

Merzbow plays laptop, while Pinhas plays guitar and loop system.

A gritty auralscape punctuated by outbursts of cacophonous noises.

The majority of Pinhas' guitarwork falls into the textural mode. He processes his notes, looping them back on themselves to achieve a luxurious drone (unlike any other drone you've ever encountered). These oscillating tonalties are then layered with additional threads (of similar generation) until the music becomes a seething cloud of almost hostile temperament. There's a dreaminess, though, existing coefficient with that aggression, and this meshing of dark and light creates an enticing soundscape with just the right hint of oomph. This steadfast accretion of sound builds into undulant morasses that are the union of his multilayered loops.

This time, there are occasions of Pinhas throwing in some semi-conventional guitar chords. They are utilized as embellishments rather than new lead tangents.

Meanwhile, Merzbow contributes a host of diverse elements: growls, clicks, wobbles, swoops, screeches, and all kinds of inventive sounds. These auxiliary pieces lend Pinhas' auralscape with an incidental character, one that changes as the pieces progress. Merzbow's contributions can be jarring and they can be smooth, sliding into a complimentary pitch with the rest of things.

Sometimes Merzbow's electronic noises rise to a commanding position and occupy the spotlight as they guide the tuneage in harsher directions. Invariably, though, Pinhas' loop layers reconquer dominance.

This gestalt generates an hypnotic environment that slowly evolves from one pattern of modulations to another, all the while being seasoned by peripheral intrusions that end up becoming immersed in the overall nest of drones. The result is a mesmerization that possesses teeth and rarely tolerates distraction among the audience.

The DVD documents the visual aspect of this sonic experience. But be warned, there is no lightshow or theatrics--just the two musicians sitting (mostly immobile) onstage, playing their instruments.

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