Music Reviews

Masami Akita and Russell Haswell

Satans Tornade


Noisemakers Masima Akati – a.k.a. Merzbow – and Russell Haswell marked the beginning of their Satans Tornade project with this 1999 direct-to-tape recording. Word immediately began to spread, and the two have since revisited the project on several occasions, but this marks the first official release of their recordings together. Those already familiar with Merzbow and Haswell will have an idea of what to expect on here: insane electro-grind, extreme computer music, a frenzy of white noise with little or no discernible melody or rhythms. And you’d be right.

The magic of the two is how they constantly manage to reinvent improvisational electro-noise and to push the limits of what noise is and how it can be perceived. As such, the frenetic opening track on here, “Fend Off Your Miserable Grief” isn’t a major success, but it works great in this context, as a brief introduction to Satans Tornade’s soundscapes. “Unlock the Mysteries of the Sun” follows, a massive track that moves from a dark and growling bass that can seriously fuck your loudspeakers up, and on to a rush of distorted radio signals. For a short while, there is a part resembling “conventional” rhythm, but don’t worry, it doesn’t last for long. An intense, sprawling track, and one of the best on here.

“Track 5” (which is the album’s track three) is a skipping, unbalanced piece, unlike the full-on frenzy of other tracks on here, and perhaps best described as stuttering aggression. Satans Tornade is about exploring the parameters of hardcore computer noise, and nowhere else is that as apparent as on this track. When the metal madness of “Testicular Fortitude” eventually breaks down into a series of hushed, cracked noises, it’s like an oasis of calm after the cruel attack Merbow and Haswell have served up until this.

Satans Tornade sets new standards for what improvisational computer sound is and can be, and is a must-have for anyone intrigued by the noise scene. The two will continue to perform together during the year. Be sure to catch them when you can.

Warp Records:

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