Merzbow – Tombo (Fellacoustic) 2008


This one nearly slid under my radar. Thank goodness for Merzbow’s official site because it may be the only place you can actually keep up with his steady stream of releases. Towards the end of 2008 Merzbow started releasing  some great records to defy what otherwise would have been a pretty ordinary vintage for Merzbow fans. Tombo was released on the fledgling Fellacoustic label and they must have been pretty happy to have Merzbow as one of their first releases. The other releases I’ve yet to catch up with from last year are Eucalypse, Somei and the record he released on that Brazilian label (the name escapes me). I’ve seen Somei get some decent write-ups but haven’t yet read anything on Eucalypse. Anyway to Tombo. Put aside any hope that Merzbow has embraced any recognisable forms on Tombo. It is essentially a pure noise record. No beats, no guitars, no anything which your average Merzbow listener can latch onto in order to describe what they are listening to. So basically we have one of those Merzbow records that amount to being a very personal listening experience. Do I like it? Yeah I do actually which is strange because I am a big fan of those recognisable forms. Tombo unravels over three tracks. The first is squall over squall of deconstructed noise. It’s OK but not my favourite thing here. The second  and third tracks are where all the action is. My experience with this record had me thinking of control. For the most part Merzbow on his purer noise records can seem to be on autopilot but on Tombo he is a man firmly in charge. On the mammoth second track Tombo (2), Merzbow defines his noise through an injection of space. I was listening to this at very high volume today in my car. I initially felt that this was unrelenting ear shredding noise until he started to exert that control. He has no qualms on stopping the noise by introducing an ominous oscillation that smothers it. There is certainly some texture through the volume, pace and density of the  noise being created. My favourite track is the last. Imagine if you will a balloon filled with noise. You hear that noise clearly, or what you think is clearly, through the thin layer or latex that separates your ear from the audio waves but just when you lull yourself into a zone of comfort the balloon rips open and the ugliness inside spills out. Magic. I wouldn’t go anywhere near Tombo if I was new to Merzbow, I’d also give it a wide berth if you are particularly enamoured of his recent spate of percussive explorations. In fact many of you who read this blog will hate it, but support a fledgling label and give it a go. It might just surprise you.

2 Responses to “Merzbow – Tombo (Fellacoustic) 2008”

  1. evolkween Says:

    It blows my mind that you’re able to listen to ‘noise’ in your car! It doesn’t work for me at all. As you say, records like these are personal experiences, and I find I get the most out of them when stationary, solitary and free from distractions.

    Nice review, I’m obsessed with Merzbear at the moment, and Tombo sounds similar? I’ll have to track it down.

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