Thursday, September 30, 2010

Charles Cohen + Merzbow

Last Monday, Philadelphia arts organization ARSNOVA presented us a with the musical equivalent of a solar eclipse; a performance from Merzbow with drummer Balazs Pandi and local synth-guru Charles Cohen.

Cohen, I gathered from the crowd's excitement, is a local hero and to witness a solo show is quite a rare event. Cohen is a master of the Buchla Music Easel, an incredibly rare analog synthesizer with only a handful left in existence. Cohen created a very rich palette of extremely organic sounds, conjuring images of dripping water, bird calls, dolphin cries, wooden chimes, marimbas, kalimbas, and in particular seal cries. Anyone who has not seen this clip from the Werner Herzog doc Encounters at the End of the World, where it shows seals crying should definitely check this out. The sounds that these seals make easily compete with the most out there Cluster, or Tangerine Dream records.

Each of the sounds was well treated with delay moving from short bleeps and blips, to ambient interstellar passages that made the sounds physical as if watching some space ballet. Cohen moved about the instrument with ease and grace, much like a dance himself.

There is an awesome video below by Alex Tyson that gives a quick peak of what Charles Cohen does.

Afterward, Merbow.

Merzbow and death metal turned free jazz drummer Balazs Pandi ignite the stage with blistering noise. These tired adjectives battling to describe the onslaught that Masami Akita has been dishing out for over 30 years without any end in sight. Merz is plugged into his scrap-matal-tar blasting white-hot fuzz-wah through a JCM900. The music is hard to penetrate. I close my eyes and Merzbow's world unfolds...

The sound of the big bang. Giant waves of noise, of thunder, wash over me as my body is tossed and turned and reduced to particles. Stars bloom, blossom, and explode around me. Quasars open, the eye of God to the gnostic rhythms of Akita's pulsar. The drummer beating out the heartbeat of man, at the whim, the beck and call, of the hand of God, Merzbow.

I open my eyes. The crowd is hyponotized, shocked, disappointed, and divided. The thin lanky man, sheepishly exits the stage.



the static fanatic said...

Charles Cohen performed here in Wilmington (NC) in 2009 with a local musician named Authorless. The video
can be found here:

Dead Dog said...

are you kidding me? you saw this? merzbow?

i'm so fucking jealous of you right now zach! good on ya.