Return III: Death is the third part in the Return series from Australian noise masters Kurushimi. Each prior entry in the series saw the band revisit a song from their self titled debut. Return III is no different. Here, the band revisits the track “Shinigami.” The result is a transformative work not just for the song but the band as well.
What makes Kurushimi such an exciting band is that they operate more like a jazz ensemble than a rock band. They build around one musical idea or instrument, typically the sax. Their jazz noise freak outs tend to be on the end of the spectrum with John Zorn’s various rock experiments or Weasel Walter’s Flying Luttenbachers. The original version of “Shinigami” is a slow rumbling track inspired by Jamaican dub while Kim Lawson and James Ryan’s saxophones snake around each other before ending in the kind of skronk the band is known for producing.
On Return III: Death, Kurushimi turn the dub rumble of “Shinigami”into a full on drone. The elements that make a Kurushimi record resemble their jazz and noise influences are still present. They’re still clearly riffing off each other like a noisy jazz ensemble. Atmosphere and minimalist leanings were always in the background but on this track though, Kurushimi fully explores it. They stretch the original nine minute track into a twenty one minute lurching beast of a piece.
Where Kim Lawson and Ian Piertese saxophone playing tends to be the center of their songs, they become textural elements on this song. Andrew Mortensen and Simon Dawes guitars take the lead here. Their guitar feedback hits in slow moving waves while the shrieks and growls of guest vocalist Doug Moore of Pyrrhon occasionally takes the forefront. Shrieking jazz guitar heroics from Matt Hollenbeck occasionally comes out of the waves. Parts of the familiar Kurushimi poke out but this is a band stretching its wings with new sounds.
The other track on the EP “The Cold Light of the Mirror” is maybe the most straightforward metal track in Kurushimi’s catalogue. Still this is a band of noisey jazz experimentalists and it shows here when the saxes start squelching. Doug Moore again lends vocal to the track which evokes his usual gig with Pyrrhon. If Kurushimi moved from noise experimentalists to a technical death metal outfit, it wouldn’t be a bad fit.
The format of the EP allows Kurushimi try out new sounds. They experiment with styles that clearly serve as an inspiration for them. Still there’s elements of the band that will be familiar to fans on here too. They’re just in new configurations. Even if these experiments only last for this EP, Return III shows a band ready and willing to stretch its sound.