Merzbow – Dead Leaves (Punk Kein Rock ) 2008


To say that Merzbow’ output in 2007 and 2008 was patchy might be an understatement. Those of us looking for the next Sphere or 1930 were pretty disappointed. Dolphin Sonar for the  most part was pretty ordinary (and did anyone read the review in The Wire? What fucking record was he listening to!). In fact the review in the Wire emphasised a point that I made in my post on 1930. Noise records are very personal things and we all have very different experiences with them. Maybe that’s why I struggled with posting on Dead Leaves. This was only released late last year although it was recorded By Merzbow in early 2008. It’s on a German label I’ve never heard of and I stumbled across it in my local rip-off indie store. My verdict? Well it’s pretty good actually. The thing is, I was struggling to explain  why I like it or why it is better that Dolphin Sonar. If I am honest about my experience with Merzbow, I think at times, I am hung up on those Merzbow records that I can detect recognisable forms in such as the beat heavy records like Merzbeat and Merzbuddha or the digitized field records of Frog for instance. Sphere and 1930 do have some recognisable forms but they are a wild ride and without a doubt the best Merzbow records I’ve heard.

When I fist listened to  Dead Leaves I thought there were recognisable forms but after listening to it six times I’m not convinced they are really there at all. So why do I like it? This afternoon I had a Eureka moment when reading a review By Nick Cain in the Wire in relation to a review of KK Null’s recent output.  His criticism was so simple that I am embarrassed, but that’s not going to stop me pinching his words. Dead Leaves is better than Dolphin Sonar because Merzbow “tones down the  volatility and rate of change”. Thank you Mr Cain because when I was thinking about this post the best I could come up with is that Dead Leaves is a mellower and less cruel offering than a lot of his recent releases and you’ve got to admit  that using “mellow” and “Merzbow” in the same sentence was kind of stupid. A return to form for Merzbow and well worth while getting if you’re a Merzbow tragic like me.

4 Responses to “Merzbow – Dead Leaves (Punk Kein Rock ) 2008”

  1. This is a really good album, isn’t it? It’s still Merzbow, definitely, but it’s different in the sense that—to me, at least—it’s heavier than it is harsh. Reminds me of the odd Bastard Noise album or two, actually.

  2. Brad Nelson Says:

    What a fucking awesome blog, man. I hear what you are saying about “recognizable forms,” they’ve somewhat haunted my Merzbow experiences since my first record of his was Music for Bondage Performance, which occasionally has a beat one can dance to creepily.

    Going to have to check out Dead Leaves just b ased on your review.

  3. I don’t like mixing drums with noise, in most cases. I can’t stand “Sphere”, but I like “Merzbear”, the Kim Cascone collab CD, and “Amlux”. “Merbird” reminds me of Zoviet France “Norsch” which is really boring noise & drum junk.

  4. As inspiring as he is to my own music, Merzbow has a severely limited bag of tricks, he uses more equipment than he really needs to generate such simple tone layers (anyone can do it within minutes), and he repeats certain squelchings and feedback sounds on nearly every CD.

    His strong point is Sustained Noise Assaults!!


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