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Burn Movie Review

Sizzlingly Odd
In his debut feature, writer/director Mike Gan has created a small film that, if there's justice, will attain a cult-like status. "Burn" takes place in the course of one evening and entirely within the confines of a rural, out-of-the-way gas station shop.
It's the kind of place that loners might wander into for a hot cup of coffee at 3am. Obviously this is not a big budget film, but Gan squeezes an awful lot of goodness out of it. Maybe we should call it badness.

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Merzbow/Vanity Productions - Coastal Erosion Music Album Reviews

Balancing lush ambience and sharp electronics, this cross-continental collaboration addresses the climate crisis with musical interpretations of land under assault.

Masami Akita and Christian Stadsgaard—who create music as Merzbow and Vanity Productions, respectively—each hail from countries highly susceptible to damage from climate change. Akita is from Japan, where beach loss in the near future is projected as high as 79 percent; Stadsgaard is from Denmark, where coastlines are eroding by four meters each year. In both nations, the majority of the population is situated along the coast.


On Coastal Erosion, their debut collaborative album, the two artists address the crisis with musical interpretations of land under assault. Merzbow’s haphazard noise is buoyed by Vanity Productions’ spectral synth pads, and the balance of lush ambience and sharp electronics recalls the work of Tim Hecker or Fennesz. One may also be reminded of Merzbow’s 2016 album Kakapo, where discordant noise was more meditative than head-splitting, and profits benefited a critically endangered New Zealand parrot. While Coastal Erosion isn’t linked with a specific conservation program, it’s still a work of environmental activism. By welcoming listeners into a catastrophic sound world, Akita and Stadsgaard invite us to experience the destruction occurring in their home countries in a way that reading statistics may not always accomplish.

“Erosion Japan,” the first of the album’s two extended tracks, begins with dreamy synth pads that lull listeners into a turbulent sea of noise. Though it’s never quiet, one grows accustomed to the onslaught, a process that serves as a damning reflection of climate apathy. A sudden and dramatic obliteration of a country’s coastline would turn heads; a more gradual and consistent process is easier to ignore. But like waves crashing against shorelines and barriers, the song’s rhythmic noise batters the defenses without interruption.

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The second track, “Erosion Denmark,” follows the same formula but is noticeably tamer. Though its constituent components are similar, the sound is less unwieldy, and the mood is consequently more grim. If the previous track instilled an understanding of coastal erosion through a palpable sense of immersion, this one does so by presenting its aftermath. In Denmark, archaeologists have warned that erosion could lead to the disappearance of cultural heritage and legally protected sites situated along coastlines. Even if people start to move inland, swaths of human history will be lost. Listening to the cold synth pads and bleak atmosphere of “Erosion Denmark” feels like gazing across that rubble-strewn wasteland.

In an era of climate anxiety, Coastal Erosion stands out as one of the year’s most relevant experimental albums. By crafting music that attempts to illustrate the severity of the situation at hand, Akita and Stadsgaard offer a space to reckon with fear and panic. Their cross-continental collaboration is indicative of what the problem requires—that people from around the world see eye-to-eye. But by engaging with these songs, one is forced to recognize that such extended periods of reflection are a temporary luxury. Coastal Erosion’s greatest success is in showing how we have failed.

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