Merzbow – Yoshinotsune (Clu Clux Clam) 2004

This is one of my favourite Merzbow records – truly incredible. An absolute must for Merzbow fans.  A reader of this blog, Adam from Sydney, kindly agreed to write his thoughts on it. Cheers Adam.

This is one of the more unusual Merzbow albums. It’s unusual mainly because of the first track, clocking in at 25 and a half minutes. It starts out with some pretty mean deep-end rumbling, a la Zbigniew Karkowski (with whom Akita has made a couple collaborative albums as MAZK). Soon afterwards a distinctive drum rhythm kicks in and it will go on through the entire track.  However, this is not the sampled jazz or rock drumming (as heard on Aqua Necromancer, for example) or Akita’s own drumming like on the 13 Japanese Birds series; it’s rather “tribal”. I’m not sure if he’s used similar drumming on other albums (from what I’ve heard, Dust of Dreams might be somewhat similar). Anyway, the piece starts building up slowly, more sound events start happening but the freeform noise chaos so characteristic of most Merzbow never really sets in. Mind you, the track is still a beast: at one point a sound is added that is not too dissimilar to what you’d expect giant horns to sound like (I was reminded of the Yoshi Wada album “Earth Horns with Electronic Drone” on which a couple “homemade pipehorns”  are played, with even the shortest one being at least 5 meters long). Listening to it I was trying to figure out what the track could be likened to most and I came up with this: it sounds like an unstoppable factory with all its noises compressed into a rhythm that beats the shit out of you (with a certain amount of non-rhythmic noise matter present at the same time), and this factory happens to be marching to the harsh sounds of giant horns. I know this makes no sense so in case you’re still wondering, I’ll just say this: it’s intense. Very intense.  Now with Merzbow, that’s usually an understatement, but this time it’s intense in a different, much more controlled way. Then comes the second track (all track titles are in Japanese (although in Latin letters) so I won’t bother inserting them) which starts with Akita playing the acoustic guitar like a madman. This might or might not be looped but quickly becomes a texture upon which a grinding noise loop is laid. Basically the whole track is looped and quite hypnotic.  My favourite part comes around the 12th minute mark where for a short while everything stops, leaving  an awesome electronic loop – and it’s not even distorted.  This part returns a couple minutes later and the piece ends with the same acoustic part it started with. The third and final track begins with the kind of synthesized bird chirping/electronic sounds mixture that is also the starting theme of the last track on the Puroland album. Then it’s loop territory again: this time the loop has a bit of an industrial flavour. It continues basically throughout the whole song which is the shortest on the album, almost 12 minutes. It’s the track most typical of Merzbow on the album, although the loop means there’s a strict structure.

Yoshinotsune is very rhythmic (but not at all in a way the Merz-series on Important Records is) and much more structured than most Merzbow albums. There are much less high frequency abstract noise freakouts too (for me this sound has become the “trademark” Merzbow sound). It shows (especially the first track) a fairly different and very rewarding side of Merzbow. But – and this is probably crystal clear anyway – it will still test your speakers and the endurance of anyone nearby who’s unfortunate enough not to like noise music.



2 Responses to “Merzbow – Yoshinotsune (Clu Clux Clam) 2004”

  1. Definitely one of his best.

  2. If I may suggest, try “Tamago”, another interesting album like this one.


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