TTW#48 – Maranata – Royal Hex
A: Loud Hair
B: Royal Hex
Guitar/ Electronics - Jon Wesseltoft
Saxophone/ Electronics - Dag Stiberg
Drums - Sayaka Himeno
Illustration – SavX
Maranata is the Norwegian free-noise duo of Jon Wesseltoft and Dag Stiberg. Working as a duo since 2005, they also often perform alongside collaborators, with prior performances including the likes of Maja S.K Ratkje, C. Spencer Yeh and Manheim (ex-Mayhem). This particular set was recorded live at the Superdeluxe club in Tokyo in April 2010, with Sayaka Himeno from Nisennenmondai guesting on drums.
Dense, roiling free noise from the Norwegian duo that has counted Maja SK Ratkje, C. Spencer Yeh and Mannheim (ex-Mayhem) among their illustrious collaborators. Here, the core pairing of Jon Wesseltoft and Dag Stiberg are joined by Nissenenmondai's Sayaka Himeno on drums on 36 minutes of razing guitar feedback and percussive tumult too psychedelic to be called aggressive, yet too furious and disjointed to be appointed cosmic or some other hippyish term. They really go for it for the whole duration, leaving behind the kind of performance that could only result in flayed drumsticks and fingers and an audience with severely ringing ears.
Aquarius Records (US):
One of two new tapes on this week's list from UK tape label The Tapeworm, this one might be the heaviest / noisiest thing we've heard on that imprint yet, a live freeform freakout from Norwegian free-noise duo Maranata, a sax/guitar/electronics combo here joined by a couple extra hands, belonging to the drummer from Japan's Nisennenmondai, so you're in for a dense barrage of free jazz / free noise chaos. Sounding like vintage Japanese psych, fused to Zorn's double quartet Spy Vs. Spy, or Borbetomagus jamming with Lightning Bolt, this is furious droned out heaviness, wild tangles of guitar, crazed chaotic drums, and the sax, which sounds less like a sax, and more like a burst of sci-fi laser blurts, the sound grinding, and blown out, the group slipping easily from loose improv, to frenzied blasting, to creeping, almost doomlike plod, this is heady, wild, psychedelic stuff. Borderline white noise at times, but displaying loads of texture and nuance, this is some intense freaked out shit! Extreme free music obsessives will dig big time. And folks thinking about dipping their toes into the world of free jazz/rock weirdness/wildness, this would definitely not be a bad place to start. Exhausting and exhilarating.
Free-noise duo Maranata have collaborated with some big figures in the experimental scene including Maja S.K Ratkje and C.Spencer Yeh. On this effort, released on a 175 cassette run (remember that, it’s important), they collaborate with Sayaka Himeno, Sakaya Himeno of Japanese all girl trio Nisennenmondai. This is probably the main thing that piqued my interest, as she is a drummer of the highest order and she shows it with aerobic but tightly controlled drumming which takes as much from free jazz as it does from Lightning Bolt.
My first impression of this album was that it had a very low-fi aesthetic, as might be expect. You may recall, however, that this was a cassette, and after rigorous cleaning of the heads I discovered that this wasn’t the case at all, or certainly much less than I expected. The perils of using a non-digital format…
If I haven’t exactly been forthcoming in describing most of the album, it’s because I was a little flabbergasted. It’s an assault on the ears, firing through a selection of genres, and while it may only have appeal to noiseheads, it is worth noting that it is very diverse and subtly unlike any other album I’ve heard to date.
Jon Wesseltoft’s guitar is almost ever present, bringing in at time punky and doomy motifs and at times simply noisy. Dag Stiberg performs saxophone duties. As well as its contribution to jazz, people like Mats Gustafsson have used the saxophone to add noise, and this is certainly the role here. The saxophone is just as ever present as the guitar but lower in the mix, sounding a little like a screamed vocal at low volume. It does, however, rear its head at appropriate moments, giving it almost a tidal feel and any moment where it prevails seems to have a rather climactic air to it.
It does have some less dense moments, the start of the second side – Royal Hex (each track is a side long) is a good example, where the sound is more groove oriented, as the drums slowly speed up bringing the music back into the noisier territories where it belongs.
Aquarius Records compared the album to Borbetomagus jamming with Lightning Bolt and, to be honest, I’m not sure I can top that. (Riaz Agahi)