Many Arms + Toshimaru Nakamura – Many Arms and Toshimaru Nakamura (2015)

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Philadelphia’s experimental noise maestros Many Arms’ fourth album is a metallic mindfuck like the first three, but as its title makes clear, Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura (out May 15, 2015 from Public Eyesore) is addition by, well, addition.

Japanese noise specialist Toshimaru Nakamura savors collaboration with like-minded free improv artists, whether it’s with Yoshihide Otomo in Tokyo or Many Arms at the other side of the globe on the East Coast. Unlike some of his peers such as Merzbow whose primarily tool of the trade involves a laptop, Nakamura works a mixing console for generating his sounds. By connecting the input of the console to the output, his self-described ‘no-input mixing board’ generates feedback that he contorts and bends to his liking. His fine-grained approach to sonic textures has found a home in Many Arms’ unstructured environment, where sound over melody also reigns supreme.

Thusly, the trio of Nick Millevoi (guitar), Johnny DeBlase (bass) and Ricardo Lagomasino (drums) becomes a quartet without leaving anything behind, because Nakamura blends in so well and operates on the same frequency (figuratively and sometimes, literally). On the relentless first track “I” (as in ‘One’), he makes himself fit with high pitched screeches to feed the tweeters on your speakers, often divebombing into Millevoi’s mid-range thrash pit and the DeBlase/Lagomasino roiling freight train thunder.

The impact of “II” comes from the occasional blasts between Millevoi’s feedback, conditioning the listener to brace for each upcoming pounding. But Nakamura adds more to the plot with an industrial drone that gradually gets more prominent. The four put even more air under “III,” at least initially. Nakamura makes an assortment of buzzy sounds, but everyone can be heard individually. As the music gets denser, Nakamura and DeBlase climb up to the higher ends of their respective instruments and Millevoi slices into whatever void is left with urgent, clattering licks. Post-peak, the song slowly fades away into a haze of distant feedback. “IV” begins with an ominous rumble of drums and Millevoi’s chiming single note sequence falls into a holding pattern that complements Nakamura’s busy squeaks and crackles. Following DeBlase’s rumbling, spidery bass solo, the console navigator piles on white noise and feedback as the whole band works itself up into another frenzy.

Inserting Toshimaru Nakamura into the mix doesn’t transform Many Arms, it amplifies their punk ethos/free jazz spirit instead. Put another way, Nakamura didn’t mess with a good thing, he just made a good thing even better.

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