Winters in Osaka
Swarm of Witches
Like a 3 a.m. televangelist, Winters in Osaka have the pow-AH. But touting collaborators from members of Spazz, Exit-13, Iron Lung and Fuck the Facts, I had kinda expected that power to be of the –violence variety not the –electronics strain.
Though I’ve flirted with a Merzbow album or two, power electronics just has never been my thing. I prefer my Masami Akita filtered through Discordance Axis’ recognizable song structure, thanks.
Despite my unfamiliarity with the terrain and general antipathy to white noise as a musical form, I actually found Swarm of Witches fairly enjoyable, thanks to periodic bursts of recognizable song structure. The occasional outburst of drums, in particular, help.
The whole album reeks of claustrophobia – like chipping nails on brick walls trying to escape the cellar before Leatherface comes back paranoia – and would serve as a much better soundtrack to your average torture-heavy horror flick better than the buttrock hit du jour. “Wolfpussy’s” slow chiming chords rattle over stoic drum beats before the song erodes into waves of soothing static that rot into FX box scrape. “Flowers in the Bodies” gives way to insectile swarms of noise as white noise army ants climb across the song and devour and despoil any sense of melody that may be percolating under the surface. From there most of the tracks are slowly morphing blasts of three or four minute bursts of suffocating noise.
Though power electronics is outside my normal field of interest and well beyond any expertise I may claim, Swarm of Witches was perhaps the least annoying half an hour of feedback I’ve ever intentionally subjected myself to. In fact, I’ve been sitting on this review for a couple months now trying to figure out what to say about it because it’s certainly not what I expected when I blindly ordered it based on the list of collaborators.
If you’ve ever been curious what some of your more adventurous musicians might do in a studio freed from the restraint of having to write actual songs, Winters in Osaka will fulfill your curiosity admirably. But I don’t expect this will be in heavy rotation for most grinders.