Merzbow – Surabhi (Hypnagogia) 2011


2011 has been a very interesting year for Merzbow. None of his recent albums have been particularly easy listens but I think it is because of their difficulty that I have enjoyed them more. I think it is always  better to be difficult than boring.  Some of my favourite “difficult” Merzbow records have been when the unrelenting brutality of his noise squall becomes a transcendent meditative mind fuck. The key to reaching that transcendence is to be totally submissive to the noise Merzbow makes.  Without that submission those records become pointless.

Records like Surabhi are the exact opposite of unrelenting noise records such as Tombo or Camouflage. In order to achieve some relationship with it, the listener has to be actively engaged with the sound. This is not a record that welcomes a passive listening experience.

As the second instalment of his Merzcow trilogy, Surabhi has some  things in common with the first Merzcow record, Kamadhenu. The sub bass and sci fi electronic doodling all make an appearance on the first track Vanamali and Shravan. The track is an absolute cracker and as good as anything on Kamdhenu. The second track Balaram features Merzbow’s version of celestial space music. What starts of as one of the weaker Merzbow tracks of recent times thankfully becomes more interesting when bass throbs and a bit of guitar shredding makes an appearance but on balance it is a bit of a disappointment. The third track unfortunately extends that disappointment. All  of the elements are there for a great Merzbow track but it is only when the track is eight minutes in that he starts bringing things together and the sound resembles an electronic firework display.

The problem with Surabhi is two fold. The first is that after the excellent Kamdhenu and Dead Zone, it feels that in some ways he has returned to generic Merzbow. The second is that for all of the active listening that is required on a record like this, there is only marginal return to the listener. His weakest of 2011. For completists only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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