Merzbow Marhaug - Mer Mar
Despite working together for nearly two decades, Mer Mar is the first time Japanese godfather of noise Merzbow and the "Merzbow of the north" Lasse Marhaug have produced something together purely as a duo. Nothing like as harsh and abrasive as the pair have been in the past (and undoubtedly will be again), this is still a mighty challenging listen, and calls into question what exactly music is.
A sprawling clash of found sounds and extreme tonal manipulation, the cacophonous wails are at once disturbing and yet strangely relaxing, the digital waves washing over in a cleansing torrent of mental annihilation. The seemingly random and haphazard nonsense gives way on closer inspection to a fine level of detail in planning and execution. The music rises and falls, flowing seamlessly from murmuring waters merely hinting at darkness beyond, to a throbbing rhythmical murderous rage. Soundtracking a descent into madness, this is music in its very purest form: it might not have any catchy hooks or memorable choruses – I can hear the cries of "this isn't music, it's just noise!" and "oh my head!" from here – but as an expression of emotion as sound, then a damn fine example it proves to be.