Day 4E: Asagaya in Rain, Round One
The penultimate Day Four bracket invites you to sample the following petits-fours…
#1 Merzbow, “Asagaya Field Recording”
#16 The Evolution Control Committee, “Rocked by Rape”
The best song in the world up against… anything else… is only going to end one way. The mighty Merzbow knocks off another promising contender on the path to total dominance.
#8 Motörhead, “Killed by Death”
#9 Insect Warfare, “Reanimated Horde”
I am a big, big, big fan of the zombie genre, and have been ever since the very first time I saw Night of the Living Dead back when my age was still measured in the single digits. You put zombies in anything (hell, even a kid’s book) and I’m game. But “Reanimated Horde” finds itself up against the one thing zombies fear… death itself. In another shocking case of a song that lasts less than a minute not getting a free pass based on its brevity, the heavy-metal umlaut sweeps everything in its path aside as Motörhead puts on a clinic about how metal should be done, and head on to the next round as Insect Warfare head for the bleachers.
#5 DNA, “Egomaniac’s Kiss”
#12 S. J. Tucker, “The Pixie Can’t Sleep”
This ended up being the toughest of the Day Four brackets; I ended up passing up five of the eight matches to come back to later so I could give both tracks more car time, starting with this one. Both of these songs are huge, huge, huge, but looked at from another angle, both of them are also kinda one-trick ponies, with Arto Lindsay’s immortal guitar line going up against S. J. Tucker’s impish vocal and lyrical style. And I listened to them again, and again, and again, as I have for the past few months, not once getting tired of either one…but after all that repetition, a winner began to emerge, and here’s another one of those places where I have to apologize for not really being able to tell you why that is—but about four days ago, I started pretty consistently leaning towards keeping S. J. Tucker alive and sending DNA to the crime lab. And so it goes. Why? No clue, but losing either of them hurts.
#13 The Cure, “Wailing Wall”
#4 Skin Graft, “Regret”
I took one look at this matchup and did the David Caruso “fuck you” from Session 9. I knew what the outcome was going to be from the outset, and my listening to “Wailing Wall” any number of times over the past few weeks has done nothing to dissuade me from eliminating it in the face of Skin Graft’s perfect blend of crazy noise, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to send this track to the sidelines. The Cure have long been a consolation to me, and helped me get through some of the most depressed times of my life…a function that Skin Graft’s music, more often than not, now serves. And thus the allegorical torch is passed, and Skin Graft takes down another major competitor.
I thought about putting up a live version, but they never got it this good live.
#3 Dead World, “Kill”
#14 Wolf Eyes, “Burn Your House Down”
For once, it was not the 8v9 curse that dictated the final matchup in the bracket, and given that this is a 3v14 bout that plays like an 8v9, you can tell how merciless the RNG was in assigning these sixteen tracks to a single bracket. As late as the morning I am writing this I was entertaining the idea that Wolf Eyes were going to take this down. It’s an extra-interesting matchup because “Burn Your House Down” is not the chaotic noise Wolf Eyes are known for, but the same kind of sludge metal that Noisegate, in the same time period, had just turned away from, and it stacks up very nicely against “Kill”, which is about the closest Dead World ever got to a straight metal song. The two songs come up very close to one another when I listen to them, and they’ve been neck and neck based on the strength of the shredded-by-acid guitar line in “Burn Your House Down” and the perfect lyrics of “Kill”. In the end, I went back to what I was thinking when I did the seeds, which is a point of decision I did not use a single other time in these matchups (with the note that I still have three more to do in Day 4F), and went with the one I figured was going to get it all along. Wolf Eyes head for the bleachers, while Dead World win by inches.
BONUS VIDEO! Shadows (feat. Wyatt Howland of Skin Graft and David Russell Stempowki from Jake, who were eliminated back on Day 2) covering “Burn Your House Down”.
#11 Black Bloc, “By Any Means”
#6 Burning Star Core/Prurient, “Quiet at the Bottom”
I mentioned during the last round that I flubbed the song choice where Ghosts of Niagara was concerned, and that had I had a better handle on the song titles here, “Quiet at the Bottom” would have been a second choice to “Hydrophiliac”. (Perhaps even a distant second choice.) But for a second choice, it has done a phenomenal job at sticking around here. And I thought, when I wrote that opener, that we were going to be seeing it in Round Five as well, but the more I listen to “By Any Means”, the more I am convinced it is another of those tracks that people don’t really think about, but that does belong up there with the big dogs in the genre; it is impeccably constructed, perfectly paced, and a joy to listen to. Black Bloc pulls yet another upset in this crazy bracket, and moves on to Day Five, while two of the biggest names in ambient/noise head for the sidelines.
#7 Rapoon, “Breathing Gold”
#10 Allerseelen, “Santa Sangre”
Mark Cramer pointed out a handicapping angle for Thoroughbred players back in the mid-nineties that I have always loved. You look for horses who consistently outrun their odds, those nags who are always going to post at 20, 30, 40 or more to 1 but still end up finishing third or fourth a surprising amount of time. That’s “Santa Sangre” in this competition. I can make a case for its elimination pretty easily when I’m not listening to it, and in fact it’s been the original underdog in every matchup it’s faced since Round One (and it was 50-50 there). And then I listen to it, and magic happens. I keep thinking the same thing, it’s repetitive. And yes, it is; Kadmon fashioned this track together with one sound wash, one beat (and one variation), one line of lyrics, and a handful of samples. But the repetition is in service to the song’s ability to hypnotize the listener and transfer him to another place; and in that, it is exceptional. Allerseelen once again pull off another pretty major upset and head for Round Five.
#15 Luna, “Tiger Lily”
#2 Caustic Christ, “Bloodsucking Fiends”
There have been a whole lot of upsets in this bracket… is this going to be another one? Not a chance. Luna have made an incredible showing in this competition, especially for a band who pulled a come-from-behind victory in the first round over exceptionally stiff competition, but they finally butted up against a titan who will not be felled, Caustic Christ. The wage slave makes his weary way to the next bout, while the wallflower plants herself and does what she does best.
Day 4E is in the books, and only one more Day 4 division is left to duke it out… when Day 5 rolls around for this bracket, assuming we get this far without hitting the eighty-minute barrier, the following matchups will assault your ears with blistering noise:
#1 Merzbow, “Asagaya Field Recording” vs. #8 Motörhead, “Killed by Death”
#12 S. J. Tucker, “The Pixie Can’t Sleep” vs. #4 Skin Graft, “Regret”
#3 Dead World, “Kill” vs. #11 Black Bloc, “By Any Means”
#10 Allerseelen, “Santa Sangre” vs. #2 Caustic Christ, “Bloodsucking Fiends”