“We are looking for the melting point of the groove and noise and free improvisation,” says the mission statement of Tokyo-based duo HUH, formed in 2007. Takuma Mori and Kyosuke Terada use drums, guitars, screams, and samplers to create intense live interaction where the noise is not so much in the piercing frequencies (what makes the guitar on these tracks noisy is not distortion, but just extremely fast and erratic playing) but in the fragile, nervous, vibrant character of the sounds – as if they could catch fire at any instant.
There are ten short tracks on this album, recorded live in the studio with a succulent “garage-rock” atmosphere. Most of the talking between takes is preserved on the album, which makes sense on a noise album; after all, noise art is always questioning the boundaries between signal and noise, music and noise, intentional and unintentional noise, and so forth. It is fascinating to behold how Takuma Mori and Kyosuke Terada go, within seconds, from joking between tracks and playfully fiddling around with pretty, childlike fragments of melody to an all-out sonic excess where the ‘dialogue’ between the instruments comes as a cathartic stand-in for pure antagonism. This unresolved tension between cooperation and violent struggle (for liberation?), which this music shares with some of the best free jazz and post-punk hardcore, makes this a compelling artistic statement about frustration - but one that is not frustrating or boring at all, but extremely gratifying to listen to. And thanks to the compact 30-minute format of the album, you can listen to it two and a half times in the same time that it takes to sit through almost any old Merzbow album.