Process And Reality
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Three founding fathers of experimental music join forces to conjure an unholy serenade for a society on the verge of collapse on Process and Reality, an hourlong whirlwind of pessimistic prophecy transformed into a heady monolith of sound.
Boundary-stretching guitarist Richard Pinhas, founder of the influential French electronic-rock band Heldon, teams with two icons of the Japanese avant-garde - drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, mastermind of warped-prog legends Ruins, Koenjihyakkei and Korekyojinn, and Masami Akita, a.k.a. noise guru Merzbow - to summon a brutally honest, politically potent, sonically tumultuous reflection of the last gasps of the industrial age.
Process and Reality marks the first recorded convergence of these three avant-rock giants, though Pinhas has recorded with both Yoshida and Merzbow in the past and all three have toured extensively together in Japan. The album, recorded in Tokyo during a recent high-profile tour, captures the fevered intensity and violently textured depth of the trio's collaborative improvisations.
Pinhas' aggressive, combustible music has always been honed to a keen edge by its philosophical bent. Process and Reality takes its name from an influential 1929 book by English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, which posits reality as a continual process of becoming. That's an apt summation of the music made by Pinhas, Yoshida and Akita, which seethes and roils in a constant state of both turbulent flux and visceral realization. The guitarist says of his collaborators, ''They explore 100% of their possibility. We have the same kind of spirit.''
The bleak outlook embodied by the music on Process and Reality is stunningly pictured in cover art worthy of a cyberpunk novel, rendering an oil tanker as a surrogate for the decaying post-industrial future. It was created by Patrick Jelin, the gifted designer also responsible for the covers for classic Heldon albums Interface (1977) and Stand By (1979), as well as Pinhas' 1979 solo effort Iceland.
If that's all too downbeat for an evening's listening, Pinhas also sees the album as a celebration of his cherished friendship with these Japanese artists. ''Japan is the best scene in the world,'' he asserts, and while he foresees a radical change in his sound approaching in 2017, he continues that, ''Always I will work with my forever friends.''
Tatsuya Yoshida: drums
Masami Akita (Merzbow): noise electronics
Richard Pinhas: guitars & analog synth guitar
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For those of you reluctant to invest in this disc because of the description "noise electronics" be assured - this music is intense, turbulent and dark but not noise. The core track takes us on a 36+ minute journey that doesn't let up even for an instant. The penultimate track [12 minutes] starts in a slightly lower gear but ratchets up quickly. The drumming by Tatsuya Yoshida alone is a tribute to the stamina of the musicians creating this and those brave enough to listen.
The 10 minute last track "Quiet Final" I'm not sure I find as titled but serves to frame this effort appropriately. It ends as it began - intense, turbulent and dark.
If you're a fan of any/all of these three, I think you'd appreciate this release.
Four-and-a-half stars, rounded up to five.