Dark Ambient, Musique concrète, Noise
Far from the cacophonous harsh noise Merzbow is best known for, Music for Bondage Performance is a series of ominous dark ambient pieces. This is a frightening, labyrinthine dungeon of an album, effectively transporting listeners to its depraved, unhinged world. The only misstep is the closer, which, at a whopping 26 minutes, is overlong.
My problem with a lot of metal music is that though it attempts to be frightening and heavy, it inevitably, due to the inherent trappings of the genre, capitulates some aggression to melody; viz., it cannot holistically inhabit the world it attempts to embody because it still, on some level, wants to be heard.
Harsh noise, alternately, sacrifices no fury. It doesn’t blanket its intentions via traditional structures and melodic progressions and, in that way, is a purer, more honest statement. Venereology is among harsh noise’s best releases; certainly, it stands out even in Merzbow’s massive discography. Masami Akita’s take on metal, the album is incredibly loud and aggressive, and will inevitably drive the majority of listeners in the opposite direction – but isn’t that what real anger is supposed to do?
Pop Punk, Punk Rock
Pop-punk can never be good, because what is innate in the genre is bad in and of itself. Trying to make a good pop-punk album is like trying to build a working clock from faulty blueprints. Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You (I just winced from typing that), featuring Senses Fail’s Buddy Nielsen and three guys from Finch, is another in a long series of bad pop-punk records.
The more I think about this album, the more I hate it. I can only imagine the thought behind it: hey guys, let’s play sonic refuse that sounds like it was recorded ten years ago – and it wasn’t even good then! The butt-clenchingly bad band name and album title compound the atrocity, as do Nielsen’s preachy, whiny ‘lyrics’ that I can only assume were compiled from entries in his third grade diary.
Atmospheric Black Metal, Dark Ambient
This is the weakest Paysage d’Hiver album I’ve heard so far. Though it features some great atmospheric sections, and I commend Wintherr for trying something new (it’s themed after night instead of winter), this just doesn’t grab me like some of his other records. This is mostly due to the repetitiveness of the material; “Finsternis, Tod und Einsamkeit” is the worst offender, consisting of an unchanging guitar riff played over and over for sixteen minutes. It’s a shame that these songs are dragged on for too long, causing the listener to lose interest and, as a result, that aforementioned atmosphere to dissipate.
Avantgarde Metal, Guitar Virtuoso
If you’re expecting something akin to either of the previous Bucketheadland records, then prepare to be disappointed. Instead of voice sample-laden heavy metal audio tours through his abusement park, Big B has released a sporadic, half-hour instrumental album consisting of two lengthy tunes that feature short song fragments glued together. Though there’s a certain off-center logic to the proceedings, that doesn’t mean the tracks feel fulfilling. Rather, I’m left disoriented, wishing these often great but consistently microscopic ideas had been expanded upon.
Christmas Music, Vocal Jazz
Despite being recorded at various points between 1957 and 1991, what’s consistent is Frank’s performance. He sings these tunes so well – his astounding enunciation is especially noticeable. A couple of the tracks are clunkers (“I Wouldn’t Trade Christmas,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas”), but they’re charming in their earnestness. The two duets with Bing Crosby (“Go Tell It on the Mountain”, “White Christmas”) are fun, if haphazardly arranged.
There are single-disc and quad-disc versions of this release. The single CD release features 26 songs, while the four CD box set contains 100 (plus an 86-page booklet). I have the quad disc set, and it lives up to the ‘Ultimate Sinatra’ title. Most of Sinatra’s best tracks are present (“My Way,” “Ol’ Man River,” “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”), and there is also a previously unreleased rehearsal of “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top.”
If you’re new to Sinatra, there’s no better place to start than this. You get 100 tracks that span the gamut of his career and display his legendary voice in many facets.