Album Reviews of the Week: Holy Land, Merzbow

(Dais Records).

Album Reviews of the Week: Holy Land, Merzbow

(Dais Records)

By Jesus Lillo.

With the rush that characterizes and magnifies the Christmas holidays and their great commercial eves, six months ago we forgot to recommend the collection ('Merzbow-10×6=60CDBOX') that Masami Akita packaged for use and holiday enjoyment by the general public, a sound challenge whose duration exceeded three days -with their respective nights, awake and under the quilt that protects from fear-, a comprehensive journey through the limits of noise that was followed with hardly any pauses this year by 'Collection 001-010' , somewhat more bearable, with only ten albums, barely a snack, on this occasion conceived as a sample of the work that the Japanese master recorded between 1981 and 1982. This glimpse of nostalgia has been accompanied by the premiere of new compositions, recorded solo or in the company of others: almost a dozen albums have been released by Merzbow so far this year, none as disturbing as the one just released by Lawrence English.

It's called 'Eternal Stalker' and takes its title from the original 'The Zone', a film that Andréi Tarkovski directed just when Akita began to be interested in the threshold of auditory saturation and insensitivity to noise. That the album can be purchased without complications at El Corte Inglés is a signal, also sound, that since 1979 we have made some progress.

We are not going to tell the end of 'Eternal Stalker', but we are not going to hide that the thing ends in the worst possible way, with a piece, 'A Thing, Just Silence', which is up there with the best works of the Japanese composer. The novelty is not that Akita continues to produce wonder after more than four decades, but rather that he incorporates Lawrence English into his team, from whose laboratory a series of superb two-dimensional sculptures made from the sounds of nature have come out in recent years. the last one, 'Oseni', recently reviewed in these pages. Hunger is combined with the desire to eat, or with intestinal cramps.

You have to be square to collaborate with Merzbow, whose magnetism has attracted numerous sound essayists, from Boris to Sun O))), passing through Prurient, Alessandro Cortini, Xiu Xiu or Wolf Eyes, to name those closest to the market, accessible on the shelves of El Corte Inglés. Lawrence English dares with Akita to carry out a field work whose sound bases come from an Australian factory, a strange ingredient in the work of a composer who, from the sources of nature, where he usually moves, recorder in hand, begins to manipulate industrial landfills. The mix is ​​more than curious. You have to have a very keen ear to distinguish how far Merzbow goes and where English begins with their joint recreation of the fading sound of an old factory. It is nature that sounds in this 'Eternal Stalker', a human and dead nature whose lament could not be anything other than inhuman.

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(Damn Records)

By Javier Villuendas.

Epic power metal from La Rioja, the Hispanic Thermopylae according to what was heard on Tierra Santa's new album, their twelfth work, 'Destino', with an absolute fondness for the virile epic that leaves Clint Eastwood at the height of an ideologue of gender of the most modern queer theory. Tierra Santa inhabit heavy imaginary up to their necks and talk about the basic challenges of the warrior in the background, between accelerated guitar solos and double bass drums. «I will always live where the wind and the storm are born», they sing at the beginning, 'the storm', a convulsive and tragic symbol, because in the following song, 'El Dorado', they confess: «I spent life looking for El Dorado and the dream was lost next to the storm. But beware (or better, ear), is that in 'Crucé el Infinito por Ti', the following song, three in a row, return to the fray with «I fought against the wind and the sea, against the storm, where there is still reason to the one to love”. Key concepts need to be fixed.

The facility of these Spanish metal legends for the catchy chorus and arouser of more or, above all, less subtle emotions, a classic formula successfully applied and a lot of repetition, with the additions, also classic, of the great solo in three quarters of the song to take up again the winning chorus in which they launch the battle-hardened and abstract proclamation of the day. Many lyrics go from traveling to places to fight for: love, destiny, supporting the weight of the world... They are adventurous nomads, like the beatniks, but with armor and greatsword. And there is also in 'Destiny' a vulnerable residue, a constant leitmotiv of resistance to the harshness of life, even fatality with a certain optimism that the light will prevail (who knows if they believe or want to believe). It is also a romantic album. And, above all, they handle a fantastic story of the world, in the style of 'Star Wars' or 'The Lord of the Rings', and that Albert Serra, rightly, would say puerile, but because it is schematic and caricatured, although noble in its anxiety. The last song is called 'Mi madre' and it's a ballad that breaks away from the mythological narrative to recall the pain of absence, with an abrupt and heartbreaking ending, which is the best part of the album because of the ghostly halo it leaves behind.

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(Epitaph)

By Fernando Perez.

Opening their sixth album with a very personal version of 'Souvenir' by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (they dared years ago with 'Video Killed the Radio Star' by the Buggles), reaffirms that the band from Torrance has always had the enough open-mindedness to go a little step beyond the addictive but narrow clichés of Californian pop punk. If you record for Epitaph it's quite clear what your starting point is, but in this effective brief they remind you that in their journey of more than a decade they have been as close to Descendents as they are to Guided by Voices or Superchunk. Or that they are extraordinarily adept at combining 90s indie rock ('Secret Sisters' is pure Weezer's 'Blue Album' and the start of 'Dance with me' sounds like a Pixies thing) with the most devastating melodic artillery of power pop or plain timeless pop: in an unexpected nod to Teenage Fanclub, a couple of years ago they called the compilation 'Songs From Northern Torrance' with their wild early lo-fi punk recordings. Anyway, their horizons have been expanding so much that the single ‘Gotta Let It Go’ seems like the best possible song that Third Eye Blind will ever record…

In a dish with increasingly varied but very recognizable ingredients, the secret touch with which they have always made a difference is that intensity with which Barry Johnson seems to empty himself in each song, trying to make the springs of emotion jump even when faced with approaches as apparently harmless as the ones on 'Reason to believe' (more Rivers Cuomo, but from 'Green Album'). And when melody, attitude and the unbelieving and somewhat cynical romanticism of the house converge in a glorious chorus, wonders arise like 'Don't try', one of the songs of the year for anyone who isn't dead inside or lives anesthetized by the snobbery.

It is not their riskiest or most resounding album, but in less than seventeen minutes they collect and fine-tune all the keys they have played during their career to offer a vibrant, convincing and hopeful reunion after four years of disturbing hiatus. ‘Now we're nearing the end and we're saying goodbye. Like a song in my head, leaving nothing behind', Johnson sings on 'Did You Ever Know'. But he does it with such renewed vigor and conviction that it is impossible to think of epitaphs or a finale like that of the forgotten star who stars in 'You're not famous anymore'. No, this should not end here. Urgent and sentimental, like kamikazes in love, they still seem ready to claim a permanent place in your memory.

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(OVO Sound )

By David Moran.

In addition to including what is probably the first musical reference to Will Smith's slap at Chris Rock (there it is, almost final, buried between the verses that rapper 21 Savage spits on 'Jimmy Cooks'), 'Honestly, Nevermind' will be remembered as the album with which Drake stopped being the fluffy and commercially unbeatable rapper to rush without a net or a parachute on the dance floor. Goodbye to trap and that golden triangle formed by rap, R

A risky movement (rap and dance are two universes not given to friction, let alone enjoyment) that comes a year after the trigger of 'Certified Lover Boy' and that the Canadian released without prior notice to the astonishment of his followers of lifetime. The confusion is understandable: where many expected to find new hooks molded with the same material as 'Nice For What' and 'One Dance', they have actually discovered a small altar dedicated to Mr. Fingers, Marshall Jefferson and the popes of the Chicago sound. Deep house, looping drums and snares and an open bar of disco hedonism.

A metamorphosis with a view to 'Passionfruit', an experiment that already slipped into 'More Life', which fits like a glove to that song between rheumy and dragged. Thus, with his voice always on the verge of fainting, Aubrey Drake Graham performs his umpteenth number of magic, urban illusionism with well-oiled bpm, and comes out surprisingly well. And not only because even from the commercial dance box he is capable of signing new hits like 'Currents' or 'Massive', but because this 'Honestly, Nevermind' arrives just when the Drake formula no longer gave itself any more. As an example, 'Certified Lover Boy' and 'Scorpion', two works condemned to irrelevance after which the Canadian had no choice but to renew himself, die or continue to infuriate Kanye West. That Beyoncé has broken her silence with 'Break My Soul', a single put together from a robust base of 90s house, perhaps means that the rapper from Toronto is not entirely misguided.

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