This is the Weirdest Album(s) of 2016: Record by Two Artists Meant to be Played at the Same Time

Fans of the avant-garde will know the name Merzbow, a Japanese noise musician who is always looking for new and unusual ways to, well, make noise. Please enjoy a little “Minus Zero.” And no, there is nothing wrong with your equipment, your hearing or your brain. You do not need an MRI–although if you listen too long, you might.

Merzbow’s latest work involves yet another collaboration with a band called Boris, a three-piece avant-garde metal group. Compared to Merzbow, they’re practically Justin Bieber, although they play at punishing sound pressure levels. Last November they played in a 300-person club where the dB metre reached 130.6. That’s 5 dB beyond the pain threshold and louder than having someone use a pneumatic drill hammer through concrete at a distance of one metre.

Merzbow and Boris will have a new album–albums, really–this week entitled Gensho, which is Japanese for “phenomenon.” On this seventh occasion of working together, we’ll get two CDs, one featuring just Merzbow and the other just Boris. We’re supposed to play these two CDs simultaneously on two different audio systems–at maximum volume, of course. They’re going for a different sort of surround sound effect. From the Japan Times:

“The main point of this concept is that the listener participates,” [Boris drummer] Atsuo explains. “Moving the volume up and down on a fader can change the music drastically. I thought it would be interesting if the listener could participate with us and create new music every time they listen with just a simple difference in volume or timing.”

Perhaps the most famous example of multiple records designed to be played simultaneously is The Flaming Lips’ “Zaireeka” album, in which the listener would play four discs at the same time. Boris are no stranger to this format, having released the two-disc “Dronevil” album in 2005. The idea of having two different artists on the same album, however, is what sets “Gensho” apart.

Got time for a sample? Of course you do!

And yes, the set will be available as a digital download and on vinyl, too. Fill yer boots.

(Thanks–I think–to Michael for the link.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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