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Meat Beat Manifesto & Merzbow - Extinct

Meat Beat Mainfesto & Merzbow - Extinct coverLike many I was surprised by this collaboration bringing together Meat Beat Manifesto the influential electro industrial group lead by Jack Dangers and Merzbow the long running Japanese noise project of Masami Akita often crowned as the king of noise. It's an inspired but unlikely pairing of the sort you'd never expect. Thinking back, though, some of those early Meat Beat Manifesto releases often drenched their dub and hip-hop beats in industrial noise, and I'm thinking specifically of their debut 'Suck Hard' release. Years later Merzbow would remix their 'God O.D.' track for the Storm The Studio R.M.X.S. album and, as Jack Dangers told The Quietus the prolific noise musician would attend one of Meat Beat Mainfesto's Japanese shows in 2005. There's no background on what brought Merzbow and Meat Beat Manifesto together for this collaboration but Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) gets thanks.

Merzbow collaborations can sometimes be hit or miss. On this one it really feels like both artists contribute, especially on the first of these two tracks, where Meat Beat Manifesto's rhythms are sculpted with Merzbow's noise layerings to create a thrilling noise breakbeat hybrid, a continually evolving form of rhythmic noise. 'Burner' is much more extreme and punishing and focussed on degrading the rhythms into noise textures and patterns.

On '¡FLAKKA!' the frenetic breakbeat rhythms are subjected to bursts of screech and waves of juddering hurtling noise, until a few minutes in it rips into all-out noise, unleashing powerful shredded noise, combined with whines and shrieks exploding into distortion and feedback. It reconvenes in overloaded mechanical malfunction against grinding and churning noise abrasions. There's a real sense of urgency to the rhythmic noise, as it continually evolves propelled by the drum patterns as it ravages in a wall of careering distortion swaying between shrill tones and feedback, with shorter bursts of squelch. Repeated clanking sounds are dropped in to the mix becoming more prominent in the final section where it once again changes shape and direction. Here the noise becomes more textured juddering and shuddering over hammering rhythms, with tiny darting and dancing effects as if generated by mad processing. It's 20 minutes long but it's one hell of an exhilarating ride.

From a descending synth line 'Burner' quickly erupts into an all-out assault, obliterating the rhythm into degenerative patterns as chaotic noise bleeds from the speakers. There's a definite sense of momentum in its repetitive cycles over which Merzbow brings the all consuming noise. Churning and lumbering, emitting tiny audio fragments and phased elements his noise manipulations almost obliterate the looped rhythm, which is distorted and buried so deep they become another layer in this persistent onslaught carried on waves of harsh rumbles and frequency shriek until it explodes into distortion with the a voice proclaiming, what might or might not be either "sound crusher" or "soul crusher". Who knows! Amidst stuttering and shuddering noise manipulations, the final passages distil the rhythm into firecrackers over ricocheting dub beats, firing off blasts raining down on your head like crackling embers. Given the emphasis on noise there's perhaps less evolution of sound on 'Burner' but it's no less effective. The underling rhythm provides a focus to the chaotic noise. It's a great example of rhythmic noise and sonic degradation.

Extinct is an inspired collaboration, an unlikely pairing pushing both artists to the extremes. Extinct is released digitally, and on CD and vinyl formats with a red vinyl edition of 300 available exclusively from Cold Spring