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Zeni Geva - Maximum Money Monster

I've no idea what Zeni Geva sound like today since their reappearance in 2000 but way back in the late eighties, early nineties Zeni Geva were responsible for a series of seminal releases of guitar noise including Nai-Hai, Total Castration and, this one, Maximum Money Monster. Zeni Geva were one helluva beast with a ravaging noise-rock sound that sucked in so many influences and spat out a sound that was at turns crushing and punishing. There was little middle ground. Just listen to Maximum Money Monster and you can pick up on bits of hardcore, punk, industrial and a degree of ferocious guitar improvisation. Zeni Geva straddled so many genres but, like so many Japanese groups, they ultimately failed to fit any, which was one of their main strengths.

Maximum Money Monster was originally released on Kevin Martin's supreme Pathological label (which in itself was an expanded reissue of Zeni Geva's Maximum Love and Fuck 4 track LP originally issued on Japan's NUX Organisation). It's fair to say Maximum Money Monster seems to feed off the early pummelling Swans releases, a sound latterly picked up by Godflesh. Right from the monstrous roar and grinding guitars that comprise the 15 minute barrage of 'Slam King' y'know this is something extremely heavy. 'Blackout' launches into full throttle head noise, lapsing into metal riffage with accelerated time changes. Yet the metal riffage here is stripped of excess, swollen with powerhouse percussion and Null's guitar histrionics that throw up noise-screech throughout. The vocal barrage is reduced to repeated refrains, usually just the title - 'Sweetheart', 'Skullfuck' - spat out in short bursts of shouts and groans. With Zeni Geva everything seemed reduced to gain maximum effect and physical impact. And despite the sheer heaviness of it all, there's no bass guitar on Maximum Money Monster. The frenetic lumbering of, say, 'Skullfuck', with its grinding guitars and apparent low-end is all achieved with the twin guitar prowess of Null and Tabata. The only concession to melody appears in Yoshida's maudlin vocal on 'On Suicide' which snags lyrics from Brecht, against a pared down and taut backbone of rhythm and guitar, which slopes off into voice and guitar acrobatics.

To the casual observer Maximum Money Monster may seem like a deviation from the usual Cold Spring fare. It all starts to make sense when you consider that all the members of Zeni Geva had links to Japan's burgeoning noise scene. Ikuo Taketani was drummer for Hanatarash, Tatsuya Yoshida pounded the skins for Ruins, Tabata was an ex-member of the Boredoms and featured in Marble Sheep who released Shinjuku Loft on Cold Spring (itself recently reissued on Dirter) and Null, a mainstay of the Japanese noise scene, who has collaborated with Merzbow and countless others.

This Cold Spring reissue features an additional three tracks recorded live in Tokyo in 1990. Even after all these years Maximum Money Monster still burns with a ferocious intensity. It's no wonder that Steve Albini got involved with them following this release. Great stuff. For more information go to