Various Artists

Sadomachinism

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This compilation album launched the noise label Misanthropic Agenda back in 1999. For a first release, the people at the helm managed to gather an impressive lineup, including such high-profile names as Merzbow, Aube, and Kid 606 -- the real surprise here. The music ranges from death ambient to harsh noise, and from forgettable to highly rewarding. Merzbow's "Fireball" is exactly that: It shoots through the sky, burning everything in its path. Not among his best pieces, it will still give a fan his fix (the king of Japanoise later released better music for the same label in the form of the LP Frog). Aube's "Ionosphere V" almost brings an anti-climax with its restrained digital constructions -- a beautiful example of the artist's work at the turn of the millennium. Other highlights include KK Null's "U.H.D.0023," the trash-dance "Please Respond" by Tit Wrench, and Season of Discontent's spare-no-one attack "Tomagotchi Crib Death." As usual with such compilation CDs, it's all hits and misses, but the noise fan will find enough quality acts, honest music, and earsplitting experiences to make worthwhile the effort to locate a copy -- not an easy task since the album was released in a limited edition of 500. The fact that the CD is packaged in a metal sleeve adds an interesting visual element.

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