Merzbow + Opening Performance Orchestra - Merzopo (2x CD Sub Rosa)

A split 2 CD release with one CD of pieces by Merzbow and the other by the Opening Performance Orchestra. The first CD has 4 tracks by Merzbow. 2 pieces each in two parts. First two tracks are titled "Futaomote" which means "double face" and the second two "Yasugibushi" which is an old Japanese folk song which was sampled and you can catch snippets of now and again. Merzbow is a very hard artist to keep track of and his move from analogue to laptop wasn't one I found very pleasing to my ears. As a result while I've heard several Merzbow releases since that move I haven't really immersed myself in his work.

The 7 person Czech ensemble Opening Performance Orchestra's CD is without doubt the star of the show here. This second CD contains two live tracks which were played live in Tokyo and Prague in 2017 and studio edited at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. Track one starts of fairly innocuously with a low electrical hum. Then adds in some deep bass notes and what sounds like feedback. This almost Sunn0))) like beginning gives way to more percussive instrumentation of machinery, bottles, glass and other assorted junk. It's all very listenable as some feedback burbles away in the background. After about 10 minutes of these fairly gentle sounds the whole thing descends into the most almighty scrawl you can imagine. And this scrawl just continues to get more and more intense, rushing noise, screaming feedback, voluminous white noise, a huge blast of a thing. Probably the most intense noise piece I've heard in many a year. It's the intensity of the piece that is most surprising. And the fact that this intensity can be sustained for the whole of the first track. The second track starts off similarly with a low hum that again moves into walls of mutating intense noise. It's perhaps not quite as much of a shock as the first piece but it's certainly not far off.

Japanese noise was always the benchmark for these sort of sound works but I think the Czech ensemble here have taken the ball and really run with it. I'd imagine this being an amazing experience to witness live and it's certainly a CD release worth picking up even if you have only the slightest interest in noise music.