Merzbow – 13 Japanese Birds Vol.1: Sozume (Important) 2009


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I was in two minds whether I was going to sign up for Merzbow’s ambitious 13 Japanese Birds series but thanks to a sage word of advice my ever understanding partner (who pointed out  that I’d regret it if I didn’t do it) I signed up up for the  subscription last month. The first disc has finally arrived and after repeated listens I’m pretty stoked that i took the punt. If everything is as good or better than Vol.1 then my year will be a very happy one. I intend to post on every volume of the series as they come in.  So first things first. Vol.1: Sozume is a four track record which is almost EP in length compared to some of his recent output. The first track come in at approximately 20 minutes but the next two are nice digestible slices of noise fun which clock in around the six minute mark give or take. The whole thing is rounded out by the 15 minute closer. One thing I note about Merzbow is that when his tracks are long, it takes a commitment of time to sit through it and his work is not exactly something you can just dip into. I, for one, have to listen to the whole track (otherwise I miss the subtle changes and the overall effect). The nice thing about volume 1 is the two shorter tracks and it reminds me of the  more digestible record Merzzow which had the most rock-like (although not necessarily rock sounding) format.

The next thing that struck me about Vol.1 is the drums are back again. The drumming is not as good as Hodosan but he mixes it up a bit more. The noise and oscillations on Vol.1 are pretty dense which is probably why on my first couple of listens I missed the best thing about this record, the bird noises. Now I doubt that these are digitized field recordings like those you’ll find on Frog and Animal Magnetism. What I suspect he’s done is to play around with his oscillations to produce a varient on birds chirping. The effect is most evident in the shorter of the tracks and the reason I think it’s simply a manipulation of his usual oscillating  squall is I’ve read somewhere that he’s gone green and has  returned to his analogue past and abandoned his digital forays like those on the Merz series. This might also be one of the reasons some of us are struggling with his ore recent output. You may be like me and got hooked on Merzbow during the height of his digital phase. If that’s the case, Merzbow’s analogue stuff is not going to hit you immediately. They are growers if you know what I mean. Vol.1 certainly had that effect on me. After my first couple of listens I wasn’t too sure what I thought and after my ear finally tuned in I got genuinely excited. This is good stuff. Let the Merzbow revival start here!

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5 Responses to “Merzbow – 13 Japanese Birds Vol.1: Sozume (Important) 2009”

  1. I was previously familiar with Merzbow through his collaborations with Boris, Sunn O))) and Sonic Youth, but your reviews have encouraged me to explore his own catalogue over the last few weeks. I’ve heard 1930 and Merzbear so far. And today I picked up Merzbeat. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. noisenoisenoise Says:

    Cheers for that. I think my forays into noise and doom were the things that had me starting this blog. I’m a bit chuffed that you’ve had a go at his back catalogue. My only advice is make sure you pick up Merzzow. The only place I know that sells it for sure is rrrecords.com.
    Dave

  3. Did you go for the whole hand made box as well?
    I was tempted, but ill just get the discs.

    If your keen to hear some earlier Merzbow works, i recommend getting your hands on, Age of 369/Chant 2, Batztoutai with Material Gadgets, Oersted, Rainbow Electronics.

    The first 2 are a good example of his tape loop/manipulation days, Oersted was released around the same time as Pulse Demon so expect that really crisp analogue insanity, and Rainbow electronics is another oldie from Masami, but quite good.

    But as you know noise is a personal taste, but i think these are some gooduns.

  4. rainbow electronics is the most concise of his older stuff, i think.

    i should check out merzbeat.

  5. Rascaduanok Says:

    I actually got into him during the whole Analog phase, and a lot of digital Noise sounds rather ‘weak’ to me — people on Noise websites started referring to his shift to Digital as ‘Craptop’ music, but he still came out with the goods, like on Fantail. I do prefer his analogue works though.

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