Merzbow – Merzbeat (Important) 2003


I have posted before on my difficulties in writing about noise as a genre. I think part of my battle is that whatever words I use, unless you experience the music yourself the entire exercise is pretty pointless.

I’ve been listening to Merzbeat pretty solidly for a fortnight and I know this may be getting boring, but the idea that Merzbow is a one trick pony is yet again put to rest with this record. This one here is for your inner raver. Think Chemical Brothers big beat but done Merzbow’s way. Merzbeat is the title and that’s exactly what you get. It’s extremely accessible and dare I say it, fun.

Now in my quest to get a better handle on this noise stuff I managed to get myself a copy of Paul Hegarty’s Noise/Music:A History and Brett Woodward’s fucking brilliant Merzbook.

Mr Woodward, besides being a pretty decent guy, has written a book that … well lets just say, he gets it. Part of the book comments on music criticism of Merzbow’s work and does a better job trying to articulate the thoughts I expressed in my post on 1930. Woodward also seems unimpressed with the pain/extremity references which constantly appear in reviews of Merzbow’s work. Although he doesn’t say it directly, Woodward got me thinking about the cult of Merzbow. Part of the appeal to many is the fact that Merbow’s work is “extreme” and only a few “twisted” individuals would put themselves through it. This idea of being a member of an exclusive club of die hard noise freaks is part of the charm of some of those who buy Merzbow’s work “Dude you’ll never get into this, it’s just so fucking extreme”, to which the response that is envisaged is “Man, That dude is so cool he listens to the most extreme stuff”. Is this my attempt to elevate myself above slobbering fanboy. The answer is no. I’ve liked every single one of the CD’s I’ve bought (although the split he did with Bastard Noise has a question mark over it at this stage). To me they all sound different and in my opinion anyone who says that all of his work is the same with minor tweaking isn’t paying the attention that this stuff deserves. I’m sure that I’m going to come across a Merzbow record I don’t like. I’m not quite there yet and for what its worth Merzbeat is just dandy!

However, what I am guilty of is being overly (as Woodward puts it) “concerned with recognisable, familiar and friendly musical mechanics and motifs” when tryi0ng to describe a Merzbow record. Fucking guilty as charged I’m afraid but I admit I’m just not bright enough to describe it any other way. Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was my taste in music started to drift over to noise and avant rock, dark ambient, doom, drone and experimental electronica and a lot of the reviews I read had difficulty explaining just what these records sounded like. Now I know why.

By the way, if you see a copy of Woodward’s Merzbook and have an even passing interest in Merzbow just buy it. It is well written and informative and well worth the money.

This is my 100th post. I’d like to say thanks to all those who have left comments on this blog. I appreciate the support.

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9 Responses to “Merzbow – Merzbeat (Important) 2003”

  1. Your positive ravings about Merzbow have convinced me to give him another try. I seem to attempt to listen to one of his albums every month or so and give up after about 20 minutes.

    Have you heard Sphere? It’s probably my favourite out of the ones I have tried. It uses a LOT of drums,

  2. noisenoisenoise Says:

    Hey Seth,

    Haven’t heard Sphere as yet but it is on my my list to get along with Frog and Merzbird. Have a go at Merzbuddha, Merzbeat and if you can find it, Merzzow. I find them all pretty accessible – the stuff that alien8 released is also really easy to get into – Aquanecromancer in particular. I may not be getting a broad overview of Merzbow’s work because other than Pulse Demon I’ve left his early 1990’s output alone. Venerology is apparently just extreme. I just bought Synth Destruction and at some stage I’ll set a couple of hours aside to deal with that behemoth. Anything you’ve been listening to which you can recommend?

    cheers
    Dave

  3. I picked up Merzzow, it’s definitely the most ‘accessible’ record I’ve heard so far. Reminds me of David Lynch, sort of. I’ll check out Merzbuddha, thanks! I’ve heard only one track from Frog, but it was a good one. I think it was on his myspace, oddly enough. How does Merzbear compare to Merzzow? I saw it in my record store and was toying with buying it (Synth Destruction is there too, but the ‘destruction’ part of the name gave me second thoughts).

    I’ve also been trying to dig into the vast discography of the Sun City Girls lately, they have so much material it’s a bit overwhelming. They’ve got an called Dante’s Desert Inferno which focuses mainly on spoken word/poetry and got pretty interesting at times.

    I also dig this album by Steroid Maximus called Quilombo. Very diverse range of music, but most of it has roots in bigband brass stuff. Do you know the artist? His other monikers are Foetus and Manorexia (real name is JG Thirlwell).

  4. noisenoisenoise Says:

    I’m glad you liked Merzzow it is definately one of my favourites. I don’t know about Merzbear though. Although it was the first Merzbow record I bought I think there is better stuff out there. I really like all of the stuff on alien8 records – When I bought them I think they had a buy two get one free and Animal Magnetism was the free one. They have a very good online store. I bought Doors Open at 8 am at the same time which is really fucking impressive. In fact I’m listening to it while I type this. I recommend you have a look at those – Doors … is almost dubby in parts. I bought Synth Destruction last week and it’s not bad, it’s certainly a bit more full on than Merzzow.

    I haven’t thought about Mr Thirlwell in ages. I have some stuff he did with Lydia Lunch (Stinkfist) and some of those Foetus records. They don’t do much for me.. I always thought he was a bit of a one trick pony. On the other hand Sun City Girls are a recent discovery. I started with Piasa which is really good. I’ve heard some of the Sir Richard Bishop stuff and that is amazing also. They’ve just released a compilation called You’re Never Alone With a Cigarette which is a “best of” type thing. If you live in Australia or NZ, have a look at Fishpond.com.au it’s less than $19.00.
    Now I need to convince you to buy Daniel Menche’s Glass Forest – that is the most extraordinary noise record I’ve heard for a while.

  5. I found that Sun City Girls best of and it was great, the only faults were that some of the songs didn’t seem to go anywhere. I’m going to see if I can find any more of their albums next time I visit the record store. It’s a shame that one of them has just died, though. It would have been nice to see them playing live.

    I’ve listened to Pulse Demon and that was certainly an intense experience. I need to get Aqua Necromancer at some point, how similar is it to Merzbeat?

    I also just picked up a nifty little compilation called Extreme Music From Africa, which is apparently just a fake album by one of the members of Whitehouse. It’s kinda nifty, though. I’d recommend listening to it, if you haven’t already. I haven’t actually heard any Whitehouse before, so I don’t know how it compares to their other work.

    Daniel Menche? Never heard of him. What’s he like?

  6. i dunno, i’ve heard some boring merz cds…”merzbuta”, “merzbear”, “dolphin sonar” all colored me unimpressed

    my all time favorites are:

    Rainbow Electronics
    Amlux
    Dharma
    Sphere
    Merzzow
    Merzbeat
    Live In CCCP

  7. as far as the sun city girls go, “Cigarrette” was not a best of, it was a collection of instrumentals that were originally going to be included with the “torch of the mystics” album, most of the tracks were released on 7″s….

    i like a lot of scgs stuff…

  8. noisenoisenoise Says:

    Hey 26,
    That’s a pretty good list of Merzbow records and I can’t quibble with any of your selections. I haven’t heard Rainbow Electronics (is that the one that got rereleased this year?). I’d add Frog, 1930 (which if you like Sphere is incredible), everything he’s released on alien8 records, merzbuddha and the thing he did with Giffoni. I’ve just ordered one his 2008 records Anicca which is supposed to be drum heavy but we’ll see. I think you’re right Merzbear and Dolphin Sonar are no the best things he’s done. Far worse are Peace for Animals and Bloody Sea although it is not without it’s moments but lacks consistency.
    I’m waiting patiently for someone to rerelease Torch of the Mystics. The soundtrack scg stuff that was released recently is mighty fine but I’d kill to get my hands on some of their earlier stuff.
    So what else is good that I need to hear?

  9. I really recommend the Master Musicians of Bukkake are great. They’re on the SCG Abduction label and are kinda similar except with a lot more emphasis on Gamelan, from what I’ve heard anyway.

    I’ve acquired a shitload of SCG material since my first post up there, and my favourites thus far are Dante’s Disneyland Inferno, 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond the Rig Veda, Horse Cock Phepner and Live Room. If you can find any of those, give them a listen ’cause they’re great.

    Planning on getting some more Merzbow, too. Only just got Dolphin Sonar today but haven’t listened to it yet. I’ll get back to you!

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