Genre/Influences: Noise, jazz & noise, experimental.
Background/Info: Merzbow is an artist who doesn’t need any further introduction. Sun Ra definitely is a less familiar name except for jazz lovers and more precisely experimental- & free-jazz freaks. “Strange City” is an interesting and somewhat conceptual release. Cold Spring owner Justin Mitchell got the idea to ask Sun Ra for some rare and unreleased tracks, which would next be reworked and remixed by Merzbow. We get 2 long duration pieces each going over 30 minutes. Notice by the way the album is also available in 2 different vinyl formats.
Content: “Strange City” is an interesting and well-chosen title for this unique sonic experience. The sound properly speaking is not that unique, all Merzbow fans will immediately recognize the typical sound wall created by the Japanese master of noise. But it’s maybe not that typical to notice some jazzy elements in the background. There are many sonic details in the production and you’ll notice screaming parts, elements of percussion and sharp sound treatments.
+ + + : “Strange City” gives me the impression of sonic lava, which is progressively covering your imagination with images of terror. The totally transformed jazz elements are a rather weird, but exciting aspect of the work, which makes me say that there’re much more common points between both styles than what we might imagine. I like the progression of the first track, which is quite elaborated and revealing endless sonic details.
This album is a brilliant concept and we here have to thank Justin Mitchell for his creativity!
– – – : I can imagine noise freaks will fully enjoy this opus while jazz lovers will maybe experience this work as pure blasphemy. One thing is for sure, “Strange City” is not exactly an accessible composition, but an opus you have to discover in the right circumstances.
Conclusion: “Strange City” is an interesting and creative experience in sound. I think it would be really interesting to release the same concept, but the other way round: Sun Ra remixing Merzbow!
Best songs: “Livid Sun Loop”.