Boomkat Product Review:
Merzbow and Lawrence English's first collaboration is a hissing mechanical opera, like David Lynch's "Eraserhead" ambience piped through a broken pedalboard and a few shortwave radio transmitters..
Described as "a harrowing, surrealist portrait of nocturnal industrial activity", "Eternal Stalker" is based on field recordings captured a few hours north of English's Brisbane base. It's the familiar sound of heavy machinery that guides the set, forming an organic mirror that reflects Masami Akita's characteristic greyed-out fuzz. Plenty of Merzbow discs have been likened to malfunctioning industrial machinery in the past, but "Eternal Stalker" deserves the tag, and English cleverly shifts the focus to disorientate the listeners: is it organic or electronic? Does it matter?
The inspiration for the album and its title comes from Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker", and that movie's eerily philosophical mood permeates each track. The crunching metal and dripping water that introduces 'The Long Dream' immediately transports you into a sci-fi dystopia; we might be in the bowels of a planet's air filtration system, or some kind of refinery. There are few human elements, but the sense of scale - and metal objects - is palpable. Both artists' restraint is impressive - the album only erupts into the expected hi-density destruction in the middle of 'A Gate of Light', where Akita's distorted crunch finally claws its way to the surface.
This moderation gives "Eternal Stalker" a dynamism often missing from Akita's recordings, and helps create a drama and tension that keeps us coming back. 'The Visit' - almost seven minutes of shortwave-corrupted industrial groaning - is as gruesome as anything in the Merzbow back catalogue, but closer to David Lynch and Alan R. Splett's "Eraserhead" pipe hiss than to "Pulse Demon". The duo are successful in evoking a landscape using each of their approaches - English employing the dynamic, gusty approach he took on albums like "Viento" and Akita turning the volume dial down on recordings like 2017's ace "Torus".
Together, they form an impressive pair, rarely lapsing into anything melodic or even tonal, instead exploring texture at a microscopic scale, allowing it to reach critical levels only when narratively necessary. Now we wanna hear this attached to a feature-length film. Stunning work!