Incapacitants Burning Orange

[Pica Disk; 2008]

Styles:  noise
Others: Merzbow, Masonna, Lasse Marhaug

Of all the musicians in the world employing the typical guitar/bass/drums setup, only a handful have produced or are producing interesting material. If it’s that difficult carving out a singular niche using the basic tools for your average individual, especially when our critique isn’t based on virtuoso performance (and in indie terms it rarely is), imagine how much more difficult it is to single out the cream of the crop.

This is especially true with noise, in which it’s relatively easy for anyone and everyone to make recordings. For every Wolf Eyes or Prurient, there are a thousand more faceless groups or individuals making the best of it with what they have. I’d be willing to bet that a select few of them are producing astounding noise that no one will ever hear, but I’m betting the majority make hackneyed attempts at being the most intense, most violent, loudest, etc. etc. Meanwhile, the average person (i.e., not noise aficionados) could hear two completely different noise albums and wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between, say, Merzbow and Whitehouse.

All respect is due to Incapacitants, a duo that has been around since the early 1980s. For once, the singular claim that Incapacitants are the “most fun” noise group in existence is evidenced within the first few seconds of Burning Orange, a live album recorded in 2007. The squiggly feedback that soon enters in “Orange Smoke” sounds like it was produced by two guys who, for lack of a better description, “just don’t give a fuck” and want to have fun. That Incapacitants’ T. Mikawa and Fumio Kosakai are capable of giving the listener that feeling on a noise record is pretty astounding. That they’re able to maintain this over a track lasting nearly 30 minutes is downright miraculous.

The album’s other track is another epic piece, but this one is credited as Fumio Tommikawa, because it’s a collaboration between Incapacitants and Tommi Keränen. I’m not sure if it’s Tommi’s presence that causes “Out of Schnaps” to lag a bit, but the track lacks the dexterity of the album’s first half. It doesn’t mar the overall experience of hearing Incapacitants whip up a wall of squelching electronics and pure white noise, however.

Burning Orange is a pleasantly effective, engaging experience. It’s a must-have for Incapacitants fans, but your average listener is likely to give less than a shit about it. For me, it definitely inspires a more thorough search through a hefty back catalog to find the albums that helped define these guys as one of the most important Japanese noise artists. While Burning Orange isn’t the best starting point in Incapacitants' discography, it’s still far more interesting than what most noise groups tend to release as studio fodder.

1. Orange Smoke
2. Out of Schaps

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