Mike Shiflet, "Merciless"
Ohio-based noise veteran Mike Shiflet’s decomposed visions were put into crystal clear focus on 2011's Sufferers, and Merciless is that record’s seismic companion piece. Shiflet's expertise in the field of experimental noise music has been shown on a whole host of albums, collaborations and hyper-limited releases but has rarely been framed so succinctly as on this duo of records.
Continuing Sufferers’ exploration into grim, teeth-chattering tape manipulation and drone we are introduced to the landscape of Merciless with the hospital-room grind of "Feeble Breaths," a dense slab of guitar plucks, compressed air coughs and dentists drill squeals. These sounds are crafted into grit, drone and white noise to create a slowly shifting dense wall of oddly familiar sound. It isn't all doom and gloom however, as Shiflet manages to show his tender side on the meltingly epic "Exodus and Exile" which might be his most beautiful composition to date. A cascade of synthesizer tones that echo the most haunting moments of Ligeti or even Arvo Part, this is somehow all underpinned by a sense of imminent dread. A dread which Shiflet cashes in on the album's title track, an extended collaboration with noise superstar C Spencer Yeh, who matches his signature violin abuse with Shiflet's shimmering electro-acoustic treatments.
Merciless is an unrelenting piece of work, and all the better for it. Let it sink in and prepare to have your mind prized open, you won’t regret it.
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