No Closure stands to be the first and final offering from within the synergetic harvest of now ex-Sutekh Hexen members Scott Miller and Lee Camfield with Japanese noise artist Masami Akita, aka Merzbow. By melding motifs of blackened doom with Masami’s unique noise aesthetics, this collaborative effort stands the pinnacle of a chaotic canvas, and the painting upon it is truly horrific. Camfield and Miller’s repeated droning compositions and occasional melodies or riffs, peppered by moments of percussion, are saturated in heavy processing that warps and distorts the duo’s exceptionally organic textures into something rooted in the not quite obscure. Each layer seems intentional and well-executed, creating a droning atmosphere which only gets ripped apart mercilessly by Akita’s own mastery.
Akita’s end is that of relentlessly vomiting the absurd into every texture that Camfield and Miller feed him. Even though the core of their tonal structures are still audible, there are parts where their integrity ceases to be, forever churned in a cataclysmic foray. Merzbow remains the star attraction in what is, overall, a behemoth production, what with his abundance of shattering glass, odd industrial sounds droning onwards, shuttering creaky metal and machine noise, and screeching hinges in an ongoing maelstrom of sound. This collaboration effortlessly stands as a mountain insurmountable due to Akita’s defiance of what we, as the listener, can or cannot discern as the sound spaces’ original form. The nature of sound is much more than music and background noise; here, it is scientific and mathematical. Once we put these more easily digestible rhythmic forms and their original waveforms into the equation with the duality of what seems opposite, sounds are bent into new creations, yet still remain — in some familiar sense — the same palette of audio. Much like the professional clay sculpture or oil painter, Merzbow takes what many hear (or see) as a finite canvas and twists its malleable essence into something only uniquely tangible for both the artist and fan.
Miller and Camfield are proficient enough in their instrumental endurance to fuse well with Merzbow’s own artform. Creating these curious, heavily suffocating spheres, this trio has shown enough acute deftness in creating something not exactly utilitarian but transcendental. No Closure is an album that engulfs its listener while simultaneously turning away those who may find themselves too overwhelmed.
Of the forty-four plus minutes on the album, only two tracks stand to greet the listener, themselves sparsely titled as “I” and “II”. The first half of No Closure showcases more of Merzbow’s own wizardry of encroaching caustic sound and sphere manipulation, annihilating just about anything within reach of his digital processors. The second half of the record finds the chaotic shimmering and creaking in a much less antagonistic manner. Rather, it is more harmonious in conjunction to Camfield and Miller’s tenebrous creations. While the instrumentation in “I” appeared to be imbued with minimalistic obsession, there seemed to be much more variety within “II”. Moments arise with deep cinematic percussion, and bountiful blackened doom motifs — and even a few odd psych elements — seem to build upon the true essence of the collaboration, birthing a new creature. Whilst suffocated in psychotic noise, the trio retreats into more of a theatrical black metal core, pounding away with their deep bass and mid-section doomy chugs and trebly tremolo-picked riffs. Shrieking wails or bellowing growls linger deep in the background covered thickly by rich electronic layers. Moments arise as well when clean vocals linger for a few seconds which sound strangely similar to something out of 70s psych rock.
In the end, No Closure stands as a magnetic yet exotic monolith. The album won’t bring many non-listeners of such experimental art into a withstanding mindset, but ongoing fans of both the ex-Sutekh Hexen members and Merzbow will find much to revel in. It appears to take a certain ear or acquired taste to fully find reverence for such a project, but even the curious onlooker may find something here that’s enjoyable and pragmatic. Admittedly, I may not return to No Closure incessantly, but contemporary fans will find this to be a well-produced and awe-inducing ecstasy.