CD Review

Dissecting Table – “Memories”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

MemoriesThe conclusion I've come to regarding this freaky experimentalist subgenre known as coldwave is that it is the death metal of electronic music. Harsh, brutal, bombastic, utterly discordant, coldwave hasn't been my ala carte, as I'm sure many of you readers have guessed through my repeated slagging of its artists. Funny, because I'm a big fan of death metal-metal in general, actually-which means my radar should automatically beacon towards coldwave. However, the form just leaves me, well, cold, to be frank. Interesting to consider this parallel between death metal and coldwave; the two meet head-on in Dissecting Table's Memories, a digital shredding of a shred style of music. Entertaining at times, vexing in general, Ichiro Tsuji's Dissecting Table is nonetheless an interesting culmination between two art forms that strive for bleeding ear canals and gruesomely inflicts its aural wreckage with perverse bloodletting.

Split into four self-labeled compositions, Memories favors its death metal samples in increments, saving the appalling hisses, screeches and overt distortion for rude bombastic blasts and obnoxious digital scrapes. The screaming voice found in the pieces reminds one of the climactic howling on Sonic Youth's Mildred Pierce at first, then asserts itself as an odious death dealer, ala Deicide or Infernal Majesty. This is what's cool about Memories; the electronic tweaking to the death metal samples sounds inspired, like a bootleg Trent Reznor or En Esch project.

Where Memories tumbles, and this is apparently a matter of taste, is the chronic, wandering off the point noise abrasions and coldwave breakdowns that splinter the ears with more devastation than a ten minute Kerry King solo. The random sounds often become comical, as in the scattershot bleeps, bloops and bluuuuuugs that sound like a vintage Atari 2600 grunting as a video game cartridge is yanked out too soon. Particularly on Memory III does Tsjui indulge himself his warped resonance and digital blitzkrieg. In comparison to the other three movements, it is an obsessive ode to sound capture and mutation.

What seems to be the motif on the rest of Memories is an unrelenting interplay specifying a changing of the guard mentality, that a concrete music form can and will gestate into a transmuted mess given the bisecting ability of the hands at work. In other words, what seems to be gained through the four Memory exercises is that we are witnessing the power of digital deconstruction. Tsuji seems to honor the death metal genre and, quite possibly, in his own mind, is giving it his twisted notion of an upgrade. The question left at hand should be: does death metal need an upgrade? Ask Dimmu Borgir.

Memories had the potential to be brilliant. The concept is there, but it is too ambitious and overly manic for its own good. With the detestable industrial clusterfuckery that disrupts more than accents, the metal samples become too precious to muck with, but muck with it Ichiro Tsuji does. His work is compulsive and madcap. It is clever on one plane, yet worse than a bad hash trip on the other.

The Black Summer is all it advertises. Not since I've left college have I hated summer so much. Thanks, I'll settle for Danzig's Dirty Black Summer. That, at least, has character amidst its evil tendencies.

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