By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
Masonna: Another one-man project, helmed by Maso Yamazaki, who hails from Osaka and has a sense of humor to go with his "harshtronics." He releases scads of 7-inches in very limited pressings (sometimes 200, often only 10 or 1) with titles such as "All Live Recording at my Room" and "Like a Vagina." He has also folded, spindled and mutilated Donovan's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" and "Epistle to Dippy" beyond any sort of recognizable form. Masonna's aural assault is high up in the register, like an atomic blender set on "liquefy." The tweeters in your speaker will be irreparably damaged by his Inner Mind Mystique, and headaches are sure to follow.
Incapacitants: Perhaps the only real challenge to Merzbow's title of Noise God comes from Incapacitants. A Tokyo-based duo masterminded by impish genius the Mikawa, Incapacitants seek to create the harshest noise in the world by "making the noise beyond noise." Their quest has led them to release double- and triple-tape sets that test even the hardiest noisehead's limits. The Mikawa has a superhuman tolerance for pain -- Incapacitants releases are mixed unbearably loudly -- and they attack with a spaceship-taking-off-in-your-face-ROAR that is dangerous to living organisms.
Aube: The power-electronics version of Yes, Aube (Akifumi Nakajima) releases concept noise albums. His CD Metal was packaged in a specially constructed all-metal holder, and all sounds on the album were made by metal objects being abused. His album Water was packaged in a gelatinous-liquid-filled bag, and the songs were constructed from recordings of water. Ionosphere had no special package, but it was created through the manipulation of electronic fields of ions. Aube's work is almost soothing at times, proving that the line between music and noise is a thin one at best.
Hanatarash: Founded by Boredom frontman EYE Yamantanka (whose mainstream claim to fame is as the cover designer of the latest Beck CD), Hanatarash is the sound of one man releasing every Freudian scatological/sexual impulse in a deafening, infantile explosion. Hanatarash's first album featured all-genitalia-related titles; the second album was an assault on older, more established noise groups; his third album revolved around the anus and its output. All this deconstruction criticism is gleaned from song titles, because the lyrics are the sort of caterwauling, nonsensical screams you'd get from a Japanese baby if you force-fed it crystal meth.
It's getting harder and harder to freak out your parents, now that tattoos and lip rings are so common. What's the next step, cutting off your hand and stapling it to your face? Confuse them. Strip off your WWF T shirts, and your piercings, and your urban camouflage, and try on the latest in extreme wear. Slip into a button-down short-sleeved shirt, slap on a pocket protector and some big, thick glasses, and dress like Diesel Guitar, or wear industrial overalls like the Mikawa. Trade in your Godsmack CD for some CCCC, or check out the latest from Hijokaidan. The noise is sure to piss your folks off, even if the math-nerd image doesn't. All you have to lose is your hearing.