Winters in Osaka
Mutual Collapse, Winters in Osaka’s latest static-stained assault on your higher rational functions, is like listening to EVP recordings made in Hell. Ghastly voices and groans creak by amid scouring waves of tortured FX box noise and fast, fleeting glimpses of tortured-souled humanity. I bet “Baby Pop” is the kind of jam Pinhead the Cennobite likes to put on when he wants to relax after a long day of showing people what pain’s face really looks like.
I bought Winters in Osaka’s Swarm of Witches a few years ago by happy accident because of its list of collaborators from bands like Spazz and Brutal Truth (who return this outing as well), mistakenly assuming it would be more power of the violence rather than electronics persuasion. Mistaken conceptions aside, I found myself enjoying it more than I would have expected. Not that it’s a regular listen or anything. Mutual Collapse improves the plot with a less directly abrasive sound. Instead, it relies on subtly satanic machinations, attacking through indirection and slowly suffocating atmosphere. It’s a far more effective approach, in my opinion. The almost languorous atmosphere, building up to the 20 minute “Stairwell,” reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson saying in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that he would tune a TV to a dead channel and chill out to the white noise when riding out a bad trip. “Toll” sounds like field recordings of some disaster made through a fog of dreamy distance and fading memory. The anxiety is there, but it’s less immediate, the dangers unknown and only marginally understood.
There’s a lot of ways power electronics albums can go horrifically wrong, overstaying its welcome being chief among the most common sins. But Mutual Collapse hovers at a friendly half an hour or so and keeps most songs tight and focused. It knows the horror you see from the corner of your eye is far more evocative than the bloody wreckage splashed up for close perusal.
[Full disclosure: WiO sent me a review copy.]