Merzbow – Animal Magnetism (Alien8 Records) 2003


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Alien8 Records have released some of the finest Merzbow records and Animal Magnetism just happens to be one of them. This is one of the very first Merzbow records I bought and although I flogged it to death when I first bought it I don’t think I actually sat down and listened to it properly in well over a year which is absolutely fucking nuts because Animal Magnetism, when I look back at everything of Merzbow’s that I’ve heard, is one of the strangest and most rewarding noise experiences I’ve had.

When Merzbow produced this he had already begun his experiment with digital noise – Merzzow and Merzbeat had already been released and if you read the reviews of the time their was a bit of sniffiness about Merzbow’s digital experiements. I think that as a body of work his digital stuff is excellent so pay no heed to the naysayers. Proceedings kick off with the self titled rack which begins as a whirlwind of processed cicada noise, filtered guitar heaviness, chicken noises, scree and hiss. It is one of those fantastic Merzbow tracks that constantly shift and changes as new effects are continually piled on to create an oddly rhythmic behemoth of noise. The second track, Quiet Men, is much the same – swirling digital pulses of noise buggery with a whiff of metallic psychedelia. The third track Super Sheep has that wonderfully woozy techno beat like  Atari Teenage Riot on a pogo stick. It may also be the shortest track of Merzbow’s career coming in at 4 minutes 30 seconds. The final two tracks are completely different. A Ptarmigan is the longest tracks here at 22 minutes and also one of the strangest Merzbow tracks I can remember. Here he uses silence and effect to create something truly creepy before slicing up the mood with bolts of hiss. Again the track changes and morphs as it progresses but the progression feels very deliberate and micro-managed. The last track Pier 39 is one of those tracks where Merzbow takes a violent swerve away from everything else on the album to create one of the loveliest things he’s every done. Pier 39 is ambient – noisy ambient sure – but somehow calm. Perfect noise for the morning  after the night before.

If you’re not a fan of Merzbow during his digital phase then you might want to skip past this one. I, on the other hand,am a huge fan of his digital output and I recommend that you head to the Alien 8 webshop and buy everything Merzbow they have. Doors Open and Aqunecromancer included.

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