Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura – S/T

It’s sadly been awhile since we’ve reviewed something from the highly underappreciated Public Eyesore, or as we like to lovingly call them “The Pub”, “The Eye”, or “The Sore”.  The guy has an obsession, or perhaps a fetish, or perhaps a dedication if we’re speaking lovingly, of experimental music in its essence.  Free jazz, power electronics with technique, and all of that, which he’s released now for over 15 years, not to mention his sublabel Eh? where more obscurities can be found.  The last thing we checked out was over a year ago, and worth another mention if you missed it.  But since then we’ve tried to make sure our general focus followed a particular theme, one of absolute corrosion of the mind, making it difficult to pick out some of The Sore’s releases, simply because its publications tend to be more on the softer side of things, which our fans loathe (no offense to The Eye).  Even if that sort of thing is not your thing, we suggest you try to make it a thing that’s part of the other things you enjoy, because really The Pub has a killer direction and should not go unnoticed.  It’s a terrible crime, a near tragedy.  Help avert tragedy, support Public Eyesore today.


Now this one here, Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura, is one of several collabs the label has released.  Part of the duo involves Philadelphia’s free jazz/punk trio Many Arms, whose work we recommend you check out via their Bandcamp page before going forwards with this one, even though we already pasted a track above.  They combined ranks with Toshimaru Nakamura, known for this “no-input mixing board”, which is simply a mixing board with the input placed into the output, the resulting sounds manipulated to create very delicate and more consistent patterns than you typically find in noise.  As you probably know, the Japanese are always ten steps ahead in the genre, and they’ve mastered the art of it.  So Nakamura came from Tokyo in 2013 to meet up with the guys from Many Arms at the University of Pennsylvania to record this session in four parts, which we’re now going to run down for you.


As mentioned, this is a collaboration, something that Public Eyesore has done before.  Collabs are always mind-blowing or mind-numbing, there’s no middle ground.  It’s always that way because you never know what to expect.  This, of course, is to its benefit, but it’s also dangerous.  See, the problem is that collabs typically end up being a mess that comes together like a Pollock painting.  Sometimes all that drippery and slathering of paint seems to make sense, other times you realize it’s just a big mess of paint and people are giving it more meaning than it deserves.  The reason is simple, collabs are often a “get-together”, and thusly sometimes a serious mistake.  At times, unfortunately, Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura is just that.  The opening track would have been a lovely setting of the stage, with its beautifully static noise sweeps coupled with frenetic drumming and instrumentation.  But it soon dips into the realm of “uh what do we do next?” through tracks two and three, picking up where it left off at the beginning, but never really completing anything.  It’s very clear that both sides of this collab are skilled.  The drumming rolls and bursts with the rest of the music, and Nakamura’s delicate textures are simply awesome, but together it simply doesn’t achieve any sort of meaning beyond the first track.  See, for a collab to truly work, there needs to be a purpose to it other than a band-on-band supergroup Tinder date.  Neflix and chill, except that absolutely nothing happens and the meme is a wasted reference.  It would have been awesome if they took some time to get a general idea of what they wanted to do, maybe a theme, maybe worked out a little bit of design in all of the chaos, because like many collabs it comes together here, and then falls apart there, leaving the listener to sort through pieces that might not even fit together.


Many Arms Official Facebook

Toshimaru Nakamura Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura: S/T
Public Eyesore
3.4 / 5