Even for someone who was not only just then getting into Gero, but noise as a whole, the surprise comeback release of Moenai Hai in 2016 was an exciting event, to say the least. Thinking back, perhaps more so than anything else that experience was the catalyst for the solidifying of my interest in experimental art in general. I’m far from alone in having a deeply personal connection to Juntaro Yamanouchi’s infamous project; awe, curiosity, nostalgia (of varying sorts and sizes), and gratitude are just a few of the many emotions that their music, aesthetic, and philosophy—or lack thereof—evoke for fans all over the world. Though the band has remained active for these past six or so years, the recent concluding installment in the >(decrescendo) series already feels like another significant, poignant milestone in a formidable body of work. This is attributable to the fact that, over its two-disc sprawl, Final Chapter carefully enshrines so much of what defines Gero’s undefinable art in a single, inexplicably unified acoustic experience. “Farewell Dream Treatment (a.k.a. Our Dream Is Over)” is an extended cut of the original >(decrescendo) release: a simple mono recording documents Yamanouchi quietly playing a HAPI drum at a park in the wee hours of morning, the softly malleted metallics humbly blending into the pre-dawn naturescape. The minimal, organic, solitude-steeped approach is of course not far from the hermitic reticence of past releases like Hell Driver (1999) and Gig in Train (recorded in 1993, released in 2019), but gone is the oppressive isolation and bleak despair that saturated that pre-reformation material—instead, Yamanouchi’s extended meditations sound more like a tribute to being alone rather than a desperate decrying of it. “Destructive Crust Treatment (a.k.a. To the End of the World)” elevates the beautiful, beguiling catharsis to new heights with a blanket layer of diaphanous distortion, which both alters and shrouds the sonic profile of the preceding disc like smoke over lightning storm desolation. You can still hear the pensive tones of the HAPI beneath the haze, and when the squawking birds send sharp sound-spires through the crust, the harmonies formed are nothing short of otherworldly… and yet they aren’t, because all in all Final Chapter may be Gero’s most profoundly grounded work yet, and for that reason it may also already be my favorite.
(Image credits to speranza.)