Merzbow – Gomata

In 2011, sporadic UK noise label Hypnagogia put out two Merzbow albums in quick succession. They were called Kamadhenu and Surabhi respectively, and were the first two parts of a trilogy dedicated to the Indian and Hindu idea of the cow as a holy animal. Obviously tying into Merzbow’s own veganism, the concept of Hindu spiritual traditions also worked quite readily as background for experimental music in general. For a variety of reasons, none of which Archaid Triad knows or cares about, a great silence followed the publication of Surabhi. The third part of the trilogy didn’t happen, and the material which was supposed to become Goloka went away to be published as a part of Gensho (2016) instead.

Now, in 2017, Hypnagogia is Back in the High Life Again, and has released the final installment of the Merzcow trilogy. Some things have changed: it is now called Gomata rather than the originally intended Goloka, it is printed on CDr rather than CD (though a very professional CDr, with full color print and a great looking digipak), and it is limited to 200 copies only, whereas the previous albums were printed in 300.

The theme still here. Titles such as “Dharma the Bull” and “One Leg Kaliyug Bull” are related to the complex Hindu metaphysics that describe the ethical and spiritual state of the world and mankind in terms of a bull that is losing one leg at a time, and currently being on its last one. Combined with the nice pictures of various Indian cows, painted or photographed, living it up in the Hindi homeland, the thematic aspects of this album are thoroughly stable. But what about the noise?

Gomata is in a way a very structured album, that works with a distinct sound/noise setup. It is certainly not conventionally musical – the only rhythms are incidental, and the basic distorted noise as well as the high-pitched crazy feedback/synth stuff do not imitate popular music. There is a kind of ensemble or setup, though, and no idiosyncratic, uncontrolled nonsense. Compared to many other noise artists, including much of Merzbow’s normal production, this is indeed almost laid back. But not to worry, despite the intentionally limited and structured approach, there are plenty of outbursts and instances of harsher harsh noise. This is in no way an ambient or merely “experimental” album – rather, it is a harsh noise/industrial album of a type that few others than Merzbow would dare to make.

Much like its specific ethical concept – utilizing the “cattle worship” of India to make points about meat consumption and the general spiritual state of the West – the sonic architecture of Gomata is very original and specific. There is some junk abuse, some feedback loops, some wall-like noise distortion, and quite a few crazy noises of unidentifiable origin. They all work towards a common goal, though: a harsh noise experience that is surprisingly accessible, even while being raw and un-musical enough not to offend any purist harsh noisehead. This excellent piece of harsh noise cow veneration is still available, but probably a little difficult to find. Google it, people, there is still time before prices get crazy.

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