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Masami Akita/John Duncan, "The Black Album"

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cover imageThe title of this (surprisingly first) recorded collaboration between Akita and Duncan certainly conjures images of similarly titled works that are regarded for their brilliance (Prince), or drastic shifts for the worst (Metallica).  Other than the fact that it is the first work between these two legendary artists, it does not carry the same monolithic weight sonically.  It is, however, still a powerful collaboration that reflects both artists’ strengths quite well.


Details and specifics are scant on this LP, with three untitled pieces (one comprising the entire A side, the other two on the flip) and the only bit of credits specifying the two worked with Duncan’s recordings of the Gran Sasso Nuclear Laboratory.  That alone of course arouses curiosity.  The A side is a swarm of stammering, stuttering glitches and surging bits of noise.  It takes on a sort of insane, malfunctioning computer feel with shrill squeaks and erratic bursts.

It obviously is dissonant and seemingly formless, but the amount of layering and variety and moderate volume levels make it completely listenable.  As it goes on it becomes a wet, sloppy series of bursts.  The ending focuses more on crunchy noises and tactile textures.

The first piece on the B-side ends up being more traditionally harsh noise in its composition.  Layers of grinding, scraping, and sputtering noises stay relatively constant as it goes on.  The sound is not as erratic or messy as the other side, instead has a nice, tight feel and flow to it.  Between this and the crackly passages of static, it stays engaging rather than becoming a test of endurance.

The other piece harkens back to the skittering glitches of the A side, but with a deep echoing throb and high pitched, sharp and spiny layer.  With these elements encasing around a heavy machinery-like drone (perhaps the untreated source material), it is almost a boisterous piece of ambient music, giving needed space and smoothness later on.

The monochromatic title of Akita & Duncan's work might hide the actual diversity of sound here, but the unique packaging and artwork does anything but.  The stark black cover features a nice die cut job via a shotgun blast, revealing the bold, glossy pink inner sleeve.  Within that sleeve the vinyl sits nicely in its intensely green glory.  It might not reinvent the wheel, but it is a high water mark in both artists’ discographies, and is a befitting, complex work from two distinguished composers.



Last Updated on Monday, 08 September 2014 19:30  


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