Merzbow Scared My Girlfriend And Wold Rocked My WorldBy Damon McMahon
Photo by Louis Caldarola via Brooklyn Vegan
One would not expect Fortress Crookedjaw, the frontman for Saskatchewanian noise/black metal crew Wold, to be so. darn. handsome. The more I looked at him, the more I realized he looked like a shrunken version of Edward Norton—if Edward Norton had long, luscious black hair. Coincidentally, as I was thinking this, my friend turned to me and said, “Dude looks like Bruce Willis.” So it's pretty unanimous: Fortress Crookedjaw could be pursuing more than just conjuring demons through jams up in the woods of Central Canada, but I, for one, am happy he isn’t.
L.O.T.M.P., Wold's 2005 release, is the only black metal record I've ever really listen to; it's incredibly musical, creative, and brutal as shit. So I was more than a little excited when I read that they, along with Merzbow, were playing a stone’s toss from my bathroom window at St. Vitus in Greenpoint.
I decided to bring my girlfriend, which was a retarded idea. She was, much to my surprise...err...immediately put off. Fortress Crookedjaw started the show by staring out into the distance with his blue Saskatchewanian eyes as he got his Tai Chi on pretty seriously, hands poised in front of his belly for an unusually long time. Before he even had a chance to open his mouth to sing, I got a text saying “Ill be in the back.”
The whole show had a touch of David Blaine to it, which was kind of weirdly cool. My friend Andy and I had tried to see the guy when he was suffocating himself in that outdoor pool a few years back but couldn’t get in. This wasn’t quite as impressive, but it was close. Fortress seemed to spend as much time carrying out his moves as he did singing. Sometimes Tai Chi, sometimes using his hands in a downward gesture to force out imaginary evil poop from his stomach while making a Sour Patch Kids face, another time breaking out an egg timer (that one was hard to wrap my head around) and checking it periodically with a seriously concerned look as Opex continued to brutalize the drums. All in all, Wold rules. They sounded like a minimalist Cabaret Voltaire with black metal vocals, which—to my ears—is not half bad.
After a brief intermission, Merzbow took the stage and immediately plugged his homemade guitar box into his pedals, causing the whole club to explode with feedback. My girlfriend promptly went further back in the room and I went up to the front.
Misami Akita, a.k.a. Merzbow, has played with a variety of folks over the years, but most recently, he has been playing with just a drummer. My friend Greg Fox was there, super stoned and psyched, and said that Merzbow had just played with Oxbow down in Florida, which was (needless to say) awesome, so I was hoping this collaboration would be similarly interesting. Greg is one of my only friends who, like me, doesn’t think Oxbow is insanely annoying, which is another reason I like Greg.
The first thing I noticed was the drummer had an Onyx t-shirt on, which I realized, as I stood there watching the set and pondering life, was probably the best sartorial decision one could possibly make if one were playing with Merzbow. Kudos to that.
Though my enthusiasm went in and out throughout the show, the moments it was "in" felt something like this: closing my eyes and picturing the word GOD written in flames over and over on a giant blackboard, mixed with falling through the sky toward an unforgiving Earth in a windblown, rattling husk of an exploded airplane, and liking it.
Thanks Merzbow, sorry Aja (my girlfriend).
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