Mike Shiflet – Merciless LP (Type)


The word “merciless” is often used as a synonym for “cruel,” but Mike Shiflet has something more literal in mind. There’s no denying this music’s presence, and yet absence is its essence. It lacks mercy, or empathy, or any other owned emotion, just as your camera or tape recorder lack emotional states. There is no overt passion of any sort in Shiflet’s extreme close-ups of harsh textures, no drama in the churning, processed strings, no sentiment in the long pans over softer-textured aural surfaces, just as there is no emotion in the beautifully rendered close-ups of somebody’s palms on the front and back sleeves. The feeling in the music is, like any of its other qualities, something to be regarded, noted, and represented, but neither endorsed nor celebrated. This isn’t the record you’re going to put on for catharsis, but its acute representations of grime, motion, and distortion are a tonic for the senses in a way that reminds me of the way I feel after listening to AMM. Great stuff. (
(Bill Meyer)

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