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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Boris with Merzbow
Sun Baked Snow Cave
Hydra Head

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


October 21, 2005
Trying to contextualize a Merbow release is damn near impossible. I think that Sun Baked Snow Cave is one of the legendary Japanese noisenik's most open, accessible projects, but with him well on his way to becoming the most released artist of all time (insert obligatory Merzbox reference here), there might be 20 or so record collectors on the planet who are truly capable of making that statement. The man's body of work is so daunting that it's almost futile to comment on how one piece of it relates to the others.

That this 62-minute monster - his third collaboration with drone-metal mavericks, Boris - can be but a blip on the Merzdar; it speaks to the sheer ridiculousness of Merzbow's output. For any other noise sculptor, this would be the centerpiece of a banner year. The beginning of this work is more subtle than one would expect from either artist: the first sound we hear is a brittle clean guitar note; the instrument stands bare for about twelve minutes, with seconds of empty space between each note. Just as the strumming picks up, a tide of gauzy electronics seeps in, growing from a faint, natural hum to a brooding drone, at which point Boris step on the distortion pedal and it becomes difficult to tell which artist is doing what. Industrial squeaks and clatter cut violently, and the guitar wails like a bar band in purgatory. This balance of atmosphere and bold axemanship recalls Fripp and Eno's No Pussyfooting, albeit with more violent stabs of electronics.

The storm quells around the 45-minute mark, when the impenetrable blanket of noise recedes and clean guitar reappears; electronics temporarily drop out, then return in the way of a placid gossamer buzz. The album's conclusion feels like a vibrant outdoor space, dripping with pastoral elegance and devoid of sharp edges. Merzbow's electronic work bakes rather than scorches - as the album's title suggests - bringing out richness and color in Boris's earthy guitar. It's the closest either artist is willing to give to a happy ending, so you'd best accept it with grace and remember that they probably won't be so gentle next time.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

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