One of this year’s surprise releases was a joint album from Controlled Death and Mayuko Hino, two seminal figures of the Japanese noise scene, that came out on UK’s Cold Spring back in March. It was not a collaboration (even though that would be certainly something very interesting), “only” a split album, but still… who cares, it was still two of the biggest Japanoise legends working together! The album, clocking around 37 minutes was released on vinyl (as picture disc, limited to 400 copies), but is also available as a download on the label’s Bandcamp page and contains one side worth of new material by each of the participants.

The Controlled Death project by Yamasaki Maso was always a lot more subdued, dark and brooding, than the over-the-top harsh noise that he used to do under his better know moniker, Masonna and here the differences are more obvious than ever. Menacing Korg drones, heavily distorted voices and screams, slowly swirling sounds of doom and despair, all hidden behind layers and layers of effects as if it was coming from the darkest corners of a basement or some long abandoned factory. Usually and quite accurately labeled as death industrial this sort of music comes straight from the vast, empty wastelands that lay between dark ambient and power electronics and this one is an almost flawless example of the subgenre… but just almost. This kind of music usually works best if it has time to slowly unfold, so, most of the times, the “longer the better” rule applies, here however the tracks, titled Devil’s Sacrifice I-VI are all on the shorter side, each around 2 to 4 minutes and at the end they just cut off all of a sudden, just when you would be really getting into the mood. But then, this sort of listener-punishing treatment was always kind of a trademark for Mr. Maso, so actually we just get what we expect… and deserve.

On the other hand, Mayuko Hino (know mostly as a former member of C.C.C.C.) delivers two longer tracks, so they have time to unfold and they do just that: they slowly change, with noises, drones and other random sounds coming and going. While neither is the aggressive, harsh kind of noise, the first one, Metaphysis is more in line with what most would expect from a Japanese noise track, with a chaotic dose of heavily layered high pitched and low, rumbling sounds, while Bone Memory is a lot more quiet, especially in the beginning and it very slowly builds up from there and turns into a mesmerizing, almost meditative piece. The latter one is definitely the stand-out track for me, but it is a very strong release overall, delivering the sort of quality that you would expect from two legend-level performers… and a legend-level label. Highly recommended.

Controlled Death / Mayuko Hino split
2021.03.26 / LP, digital
01.Controlled Death: Devil’s Sacrifice I
02.Controlled Death: Devil’s Sacrifice II
03.Controlled Death: Devil’s Sacrifice III
04.Controlled Death: Devil’s Sacrifice IV
05.Controlled Death: Devil’s Sacrifice V
06.Controlled Death: Devil’s Sacrifice VI
07.Mayuko Hino: Metaphysis
08.Mayuko Hino: Bone Memory


A year in reviews: in 2021 I was somewhat neglecting the site due to the lack of free time, but now I try to make up for it as much as possible, reviewing several important / good / interesting albums that were released this year. One for each day throughout December, from a very wide spectrum of genres. #2021reviews