MERZBOW / ACTUARY  Freak Hallucinations  LP   (Obfuscated Records)   14.99

Another split record from LA noisemakers Actuary, one in a long line of splits that have emerged over the past year. For the most part, they've all been great, at the very least prone to some spectacular aural brutality. This brand new one comes to us from Obfuscated and features the master of Japanese noise himself, Masami Akita, on the other side delivering one long track of electronic skullfuck.

For close to twenty minutes, Merbow's "Sugamo Flower Festival" seethes and boils like a vat of irradiated violin strings, a mewling, chirping mass of high-end bleeps and discordant bloops. It differs from a lot of the recent Merzbow stuff I've been listening to in that it doesn't incorporate drumming, but it's definitely on the harsher side of his current style of psychedelic electronics, a swirling toxic cloud of skree and drone and ecstatic junk-noise abandon. By the midway point, it starts to sound like a modern classical piece being regurgitated by a Skynet terminal, and it's music to my ears.

That's followed by Actuary who bring us three new ominously titled tracks ("Only Ghosts Hate New Things", "Inhuman Bondage", "Ritual Embrace") that still use a lot of repurposed samples, warping them and burying them in an abrasive electronic drug-haze. Evil black cinematic synths throb over weird time-stretched vocals and trippy effects, the first track taking shape as a kind of psychedelic 80's horror movie score, all gleaming murderous ambience and demonic utterances awash in metallic grit; those fucked-up vocal sounds come from Kevin Fetus (Fetus Eaters/Murder Construct) and Chris Dodge (Spazz/Bacteria Cult), who joined up with Actuary for this record. It goes on to monstrous dronescapes built from whirling feedback, bestial grunting and crushing machine-noise, into flurries of alien warning sirens and malfunctioning computer systems, creeping pulsating blackened industrial dirge, and finally immolating themselves in a whacked-out cosmic power electronics meltdown that summons up these bizarre images of Whitehouse being forcibly blasted out of an airlock into deep space...

Comes on smoke-grey vinyl.