In the recent past, we’ve seen the renowned French textural guitarist Richard Pinhas team up with a couple of major names from Japan’s own experimental scene. Tatsuya Yoshida and Merzbow have thrived on the cutting edge on drums and electronics, respectively and found fertile, common ground with Pinhas. With this year’s product Process & Reality, the three combine in an encounter on Cuneiform Records that makes just too much sense not to do.
Pinhas had been touring with Yoshida and Merbow in Japan — along with another icon of the country’s vibrant noise music community, guitarist Keiji Haino — when the three ducked into a Tokyo studio and meted out Process & Reality. Since they were deep into a live performance frame of mind, this record captures them in the perfect mindset.
Subdivided into five sections, Yoshida’s thunderous drums provide the adrenaline as Pinhas and Merzbow supply the clinical soul. And the intro piece “TVJ00” serves notice that they don’t need any time to ramp up to overdrive.
Yoshida runs completely free on the ‘core track’ entitled “TVJ33,” and has to plow hard just to be heard alongside the hypnotic din of his cohorts’ wondrous, complex electronic creation. Merbow’s atonal white noise makes for such a perfect companion to Pinhas’ rich and thick drones, the composite sound they make is virtually inseparable. Like a good Terry Riley groove, it moves at a pace just progressive enough to keep you transfixed on the incremental unraveling, transitioning imperceptibly in and out of drum-less ambience.
“TVJ66” picks up where the prior track left off, already at full speed but only gradually attaining full volume, simulating an approaching violent storm you first observe, then feel. “TVJ77” is supposed to be the ‘quiet’ finale but Yoshida’s drums create turbulence underneath the unending streams of synthetic whirs that fade and recover like tidal movements.
Always pushing forward, Pinhas has hinted that Process & Reality may very well be the last in a series of “Electro-Noiz” albums he’s been making of late. They’ve all been superb examples of this style that he practically invented himself so it would be a wistful moment in a long and meaningful music career. That said, this is a powerful coda for this phase if it’s truly a coda, and there’s no reason to think that Pinhas’ next adventure couldn’t be just as exciting.
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