Merzbow / S.C.U.M.* ‎– Axx / Spooning

SPH ‎– SPH057
Cassette, Limited Edition


A Axx 23:00
B Spooning 23:08

Companies, etc.



Side A: Remixed at ZSF Produkt Studio. Drum tracks recorded at Penta, Otuka.
Side B: Live at Penta Studio, Otsuka 18 june '90.



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June 2, 2012
The cover of this tape has a rather fetching topless oriental girl with a large flower either in her hair or clenched in her teeth while an artist paints her. Somehow this in the antithesis of the sounds contained within which are both pained and painful, more an aggressive action painting - POLLOCK going berzerk on bad Ecstasy - than fine art. Actually, this is the most approachable album I have heard in this extreme style of 'Pure Noise' - the addition of drums, flatly Eastern & just as chaotic, actually fills in the gaps, giving the driving, nay, overdriving distortions & feedbacks & uncontrollable noise far more structure than it possessed before, moving it closer in actual style to Grunge. There are only two tracks credited - the first side entitled "Axx", yet it seems to consist of countless different parts, each pushing the VU needles deep into the red while pushing the listener along on uncompromising waves of dense, relentless distorted machine noise. Stopping again and again to restructure the palate of roaring, snarling noise, twisting similar sounds through indescribable loops & into mind-crunching shapes, this recording totally ignores such concepts as subtlty, composition & colour, and chooses instead to stay very much in a state of audio war, a battle zone wherein mere flesh & bones would be boiled to vapour in a handful of seconds. There are points where the deconstruction sheds away to reveal a 4/4 Rock heart which would ride roughshod over the most hard-assed Thrash/Death/Heavy Metal group. This is like a glimpse of one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse - once seen, you figure the other three were right to chicken out.
The second side, "Spooning", was recorded 'live' at Penta Studio, Otsuka, back in '90. By live I assume they mean without overdubs, which means they plumped for a much more dense mix than with "Axx" - ear splitting feedback; distorted, yelling voice pushed almost beyond recognition. As such it is far closer to the rest of this field of music, by which I mean that the sound is like a Nuke going off while someone calmly films it through one of those cameras used in the '92 Olympics to see who actually crossed the winning line first, elongating even the fastest runner - a huge devastating explosion, causing untold megadeath, drawn out to a thousand times it's event-length. It's a sound which does as was intended - it fills a room with a painful audio fuzz, devouring any sense of time, place or reality in it's hugely exaggerated peristaltic churning cacophony.

It seems a very short album, but is well worth investing in if you like this style, and is an ideal intro if the scene interests you, but you don't really know where to start. The first side may not be as extreme as some like (it's a varied & interesting side, so.... ), but the second side should amply make up for you deafness-bound die-hard-core addicts.

Originally reviewed for Soft Watch.