20 years of Masonna’s Inner Mind Mystique

MI0000109313A few years back, I wrote a piece about Relapse Records’ noise/ambient sub label Release Entertainment, which concurrently exposed me to a variety of experimental sounds as I was in the beginning stages of my deep dive into the worlds of death metal and grindcore.  One of the key albums in the Release catalog was Inner Mind Mystique, the seventh full length from Japanese noise provocateur Masonna (aka Yamazaki Maso).

Originally released on July 30, 1996, Inner Mind Mystique still sounds every bit as jarring, ugly and extreme as it did when I first heard it in the late ’90s or early 2000s (bear in mind I was living in Iowa where we were more than a little behind on things). Clocking in at less than forty minutes, the album hits hard and fast, devastating your eardrums and offering at the most a few scant seconds of reprieve spread across its seven tracks of otherwise relentlessly brutal sonics.  This is one of the rare instances where a label’s promotional blurb for an album was actually accurate:

Uneasy Listening. Sanity Splintering Sounds!!! Rabidly Insane Vocals!!! Utterly Barbaric Japanese Noise!!! Play Loud!

Masonna’s aural assault is somewhat similar to Merzbow’s recordings from the same time period (indeed, Merzbow’s Venereology was the first Release CD I ever purchased); impenetrable slabs of white noise manipulated to create ear-punishing walls of pure, corrosive sound. But what makes Inner Mind Mystique even more terrifying is Masonna’s incorporation of some seriously deranged vocals; it sounds as if he is being swallowed up and dragged screaming down into the bowels of the abyss by his own mangled electronic creations.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason Masonna never managed to garner the same widespread acclaim that Merzbow did, which is likely why Inner Mind Mystique is often overlooked by old school noiseheads in favor of Merzbow’s trilogy of Release albums (Venereology, Pulse Demon and Tauromachine).  But there is something singular about Inner Mind Mystique; it’s the sound of frail, filthy humanity being overtaken and drowned to death by wave after wave of decimating distortion and feedback. Then again, sometimes it just sounds like a dial-up modem being tossed into a pool of hot magma.  Whatever the case, I’ve never encountered another noise album that sounds quite like it.

I’m not sure exactly how long Inner Mind Mystique has been out of print for; according to Discogs it has never been reissued beyond its original run back in ’96 (issued on CD and as limited 3 x 7″ vinyl set). Considering that noise/power electronics/death industrial and the like are arguably more popular now than ever before, this beast is begging for a reissue; unless you own an original physical copy, your only current listening options are YouTube or trying to find the MP3s on some janky Russian Blogspot.

I’m still holding out hope that Relapse will eventually come to their senses and acknowledge Release Entertainment as a vital part of the label’s past, but in the meantime you can melt down your brain and let it slowly dribble out your ear-holes with the embedded video of the full album below.

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