Archive for the Merzbow Category

Merzbow – Merzbient (Solielmoon) 2010

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 20, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Before I get too my own thoughts on Merzbient  – this is how Solielmoon explain where this comes from.

Merzbient” is a twelve CD collection of Merzbow’s previously unreleased ambient recordings. The music was recorded in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, at a time when Masamik Akita (Merzbow) was becoming famous for his live performances, which featured some of the harshest sounds ever heard. The records he released mirrored these peformances, and helped establish his reputation as the prime mover in the Japanese noise scene. The electronics he used for his recordings were the same ones he used for live shows. Out of necessity he toured with gear that was small, simple and portable. But all the while he was secretly recording quieter, more atmospheric music, and using a wide variety of acoustic instruments including an impractical monstrosity he describes as a “big handmade junk instrument made from a metal box with piano wires”, which he played with a violin bow. He made hours and hours of recordings, but kept them private and never released them, until they were eventually set aside and forgotten. He recently rediscovered the multi-track mastertapes in a box and remastered them for release on CD.

As  you trawl the interwebs you might notice that there is a defined sense of elitism when it comes to Merzbow. Have a look at some of the stuff on Lastfm for instance. There are the people who question Merzbow’s relevance, the “I don’t listen to anything after 2000/1998/1994 (take your pick) crowds, the analogue purists, the anything softer than Verenology is crap mob, the Masonna are better club. The absolutism of many of these views is something that surprises me. I’ve said it before but if you are undertaking a journey in to the world of noise, or Merzbow specifically, then that journey is going to be a very private one. You are going to hear things in the sound that no one else will. Your relationship with it will always be unique to everyone elses. So when I review Merzbow the only things that are going to be relevant to anyone else is a general overview of the sound. In the past I’ve relied on a definition of harshness, the presence or absence of recognisable forms and whether it has a beat, the style (big-beat, industrial, pure noise). Four years ago I wrote about my experience with Merzbear, a decidedly easy hopping on point for anyone new to Merzbow or noise, then onto Merzzow, Amlux, Tauromachine and the one that really blew me away 1930. Last year I was inspired by a reader in New York to explore the really harsh stuff of the mid-1990’s and realised I didn’t need to hang on to those recognisable forms anymore.

The sound on Merzbient covers a period from from 1988 to 1990 and in a noise sense covers a huge amount of ground. Before we got too much further, the first thing I wrestled with when hearing this was my definition of ambient. I’ve always defined it in the context of Eno’s Music for Airports. If you do the same then Merzbient is sure as shit not ambient. This is Merzbow after all, the King of Noise and Merzbient is a decidedly noisy affair. Even when the tracks are flooded with light such as the music on Disc 1 there is a distinct ominous vibe. As I trawl through each of the discs I’ve been struck with how some of Merzbient  sounds like that creeping dread that you might hear on quieter Wolf Eyes tracks. In fact, there is a real sense on some of these discs of the rust-belt decay of the Michigan noise scene. I could pick out bits and pieces of the tracks and tell you that this bit sounds a little like this record or that. I could tell you on Disc 2 that the use of sample animal recordings made me think of Nurse With Wound before some decidedly No-Neck Blues Band style acoustic guitar and drum vibe shattered that illusion – but to pick out all the bits that worked for me over these 12 discs would require me starting a separate blog that I would suspect would defeat the purpose of why I started this blog in the first place by referencing the obscure with even more obscure comparisons.

I encourage anyone with a Merzbow interest to buy this. I know that many of you have got it already and I’d love to hear your thoughts about  it in the comments (or send me an email I think that in the scheme of noise, Merzbient is, dare I say it, extremely important. When the next scholar writes on noise I think that Merzbient will be considered one of it’s seminal works.

Merzbow – Yoshinotsune (Clu Clux Clam) 2004

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 9, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

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.


Merzbow – Pinkream (Dirter) 1997

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on July 21, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

The mid to late 1990’s may have been Merzbow’s strongest period. I gradually come around to the view that his strongest work is pre-2000 although I’m not one of those who would  suggest that everything he did post 2000 is of little value (and there are a lot of those folks out there). For beginner noise folks those Merz records are stil the way to go before getting your hands on 1930.

Think about the quality of the albums that were released during the 1990’s; 1930, Space Metalizer, Hybrid Noisebloom, Noisembyo, Oested, Green Wheels, Amlux etc. The striking thing about this period is that most of those releases are now long our of print and except for 1930 you’d have to hunt them down and pay some silly money on Discogs to secure your copy or buy an itunes copy. Pinkream is another harsh noise cracker from the same period. I thought that this was out of print given its limited run of 500 copies but you can still pick up a copy from the Dirter website. I think it is well worth while tracking down – I’d give it an eight on the harshness scale. Its probably quite close to Oested in the industrial noise storm unleashed here. Not one for beginners but a bit of a gem for the rest of us.

Merzbow – Marmo (New Europa Cafe) 2010

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on June 14, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

The inspiration for Merzbow’s latest album is marble. The press release says that he was in Venice and liked the marble and here is the noise that resulted. It’s all pretty comical really. Those of us who have bought the Birds records and the animal rights ones have probably realised that the sound inside has no link to the title of the CD nor the particular  “inspiration” Merzbow felt before he made it. One might suggest that his homage to  a particularly memorable can of baked beans would result in a similar noise.

Of course that is not to say that the noise on many of these records is not fantastic. Marmo is not quite up to the standard of Ouroboros but is a pretty sound noise record none the less. In many of my posts on Merzbow’s work I have used the word”scree”. Scree is the small rocks that lie on a mountain slope and it is a word that makes sense when listening to Marmo. Those looking for the cool elegance of marble may need to look elsewhere. What Merzbow adds to the mix of layers on this one is a sound that reminded me of some of the incidental music of the classic French animation Les Planetes Sauvage, particularly the neo-futurist minimalist beeping and bleeping. To get what I mean check out the clip below for around ten seconds at the 102 second mark. And if you haven’t seen that movie you should check it out. One of the strangest things you’ll ever see. Marmo isn’t a great Merzbow record but it still works in a vaguely psychedelic way.

Merzbow – Electric Salad (Etherworld) 1995

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on May 31, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

After I received my copy of Ouroboros I decided to have a bit of a browse through the Soleil Moon webshop and fuck me if they didn’t find a couple of this long out of print title in the depths of their storeroom.

I struggle to come up with anything new to say when reviewing a Merzbow record. All of his standard bag of tricks are on display here and used to great effect. There are three tracks in all with the first short track Prologue getting the ears ready before the sheer noise fuckery of the mammoth second track, Electric Salad, kicks off for the best part of an hour.

Initially I thought this was kind of similar to 1930 in many ways. The playful high end bubble pulses and whips were everywhere. Merzbow displaying his sense of humour and a lightness of touch if you like. But at around the 26 minute mark I realised that this is a very different beast. Shit got weird basically. Merzbow chucks in cuts ups of  movie dialogue, traffic noise  and 1960’s film music into the middle of his noise maelstrom. Does it work? Yeah I think it does,but after the complete noise-fests of Ouroboros and Higanbana, its gave me a bit of a jolt to hear Merzbow at his playful, media cut up best. The final track is also a bit of a gem  but I suspect that by the time many listeners come to terms with”the Salad” noise exhaustion may have set in.

Merzbow – Ouroboros ( Soleil Moon) 2010

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on May 23, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

I’ve listened to this three times now and each time I hear new and exciting things. This latest fresh slice of Merzbow goodness is a 56 minute long track which is like  Tauromachine, Pulse Demon and 1930 have been put in a blender. It is probably the finest Merzbow solo CD since 2007.

Why is it so good? This is the type of Merzbow record that first blew me away over three years ago. The sort of record that astonishes and surprises me. The type of record that every time I listen to it I hear something new. The type of record where there is this strange balance between the harshest of noise, oppressive drones and cheeky bubbling flourishes. The type of record that I know my experience will be totally different to yours. The best type of Merzbow record. There will only be 500 of these. Be quick.

Merzbow – Higabana (Vivo Records) 2006

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on May 18, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

I was chatting to someone on Lastfm recently who told me that he wasn’t interested in anything Merzbow did after 2000. I’m not sure whether this is some form of snobby elitism or a genuine love for the visceral noise of the mid-1990’s but a narrow focus on Merzbow’s massive back catalogue means that you miss some great records like this one.  The Polish label Vivo is responsible for some of the finest Merzbow records in recent  years, Hodosan and Coma Berenices being the other two I’ve heard. What makes Higanbana a different record to the other two is a complete lack of recognisable forms. This is a full on noise assault. The rock and metal forms of Coma Berenices and Boredoms like spazzfest of Hodosan are now here to be seen. Higanbana is unrelenting, dense clouds of noise that morph and change as layers are added, collapse and supercede. This is the type of Merzbow record I’m enjoying more and more. It’s almost an ultimate distillation of Merzbow’s pure noise.

Merzbow – Another Merzbow Records (Dirter) 2010

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on April 2, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

The music over these three discs is some of the finest Merzbow you’ll hear. The tracks contained here are from limited releases, compilation appearances and stuff like that. It covers a pretty decent period of time from  1991 to  2000 and for the most part contains  pretty full on noise tracks although those looking for recognisable forms will find some stuff to love as well. When I first started listening to Merzbow I wouldn’t have thought I’d be the owner of so much of his back catalogue but here I am three years later spending a Friday night listening to 19 obscure Merzbow tracks.  My taste in Merzbow has changed over those years  and I’ve gone from those accessible records like the Merz series to embracing his less structured full on noise assaults.  Most  of the tracks coming from the mid-1990’s,   a period which I think may reflect some of Merzbow’s best work. There are a couple of tracks each from Whitehouse’s Susan Lawley label (Extreme Music From Japan), the Scumtron compilation on Blast First and three tracks from the French compilation Switching Rhetorics.  A lot of those albums from the mid-1990’s are impossible  to track down so if you are interested in the period you may be wise to get this before it sells out  (its limited to 1000 copies). The cheapest option is to buy it straight from Dirter.

Merzbow – Camouflage (Essence) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on March 4, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Camouflage same out of the small but brilliant Brazilian label, Essence and it appeared in the midst of his drumming period, somewhere in between Annica and the 13 Japanese Birds Series. It’s an odd one for the period it was released in because this finds Akita layering squalls of noise over levels of distortion, oscillating tones etc. with no drums to be heard. On a Merzbow harshness factor we’re probably on about a seven. The first track is titled Coral Reef Color  With Red, Pink , Purple and Green and its pretty good. There is this nice, extremely slow, oscillating tone in the first couple of minutes  which sounds to me like a whale coming up for air and diving again. I thought that was pretty cool. The rest of the track has its moments but I absolutely loved the last three minutes where all of the layers seems to have opened up to merge as one big tone before new layers are added. A crescendo if you will. It is prime Merzbow and reason enough to get this. The second track Transparent Man is Color With Blue and Pink has some nice ambient, retro space doodling  over a low rumble which sounds like being in the middle of a mushroom cloud. There’s plenty going on here and if you like your noise complex you can’t go far wrong here. Cicad Played Under the Arch is the final track here and comes after the second track all but detonated in my ear. It’s a very full on constantly morphing beast and around the 14 minute mark has a sound that reminds me of a fax machine getting tortured. This was the 2009 Merzbow release that I enjoyed the most. It’s worthwhile checking out. My only word of advice is that Camouflage needs to be played loud. At lower volumes you’ll miss half of what is going on.

Merzbow – Rainbow Electronics 2 (Dexters Cigar) 1996

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on February 15, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Writing this blog has been a blast for the last two and a half years. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been reassessing whether to continue writing it. Part of the reason for this reassessment is the changes to the google algorithms which has killed the traffic to Ducks Battle Satan. To see the blog stats collapse has been pretty depressing really. This also coincided with a new  job which is both challenging and rewarding and has severely curtailed my opportunities to listen to as much music as I was able to last year. Yet there are a stack of you out there who subscribe to the feed so in the spirit of everything noisy,  I say fuck it, let’s keep this baby rolling.

If you hear something this year and want  to tell the proud noise nerds  who come here all about it then why not write a review for DBS. You can shoot me an email at

To Rainbow Electronics 2. My Merz-break is well and truly over. Last year had me buying a stupid amount of Merzbow records. I blame a particular reader from New York (Hey Ben) whose list of great Merzbow records was very different to mine. In a burst of insanity I came to the conclusion that had to track down most of his list just in case I was missing something. The records that were on his list are some of the finest Merzbow records I own and by tracking them down I was able to embrace a side of Merzbow that I had only really dabbled with. Emails from readers have been an invaluable source of tracking down new things. When I ask for  suggestions about which Merzbow records to track down, Rainbow Electronics 2 is always one that gets a mention. Late last year I managed  to track down a copy.

In most Merzbow records you never hear the man, the human making the racket. On Rainbow Electronics the playing or destruction of whatever he is using to make the noise is tangible. You can hear actually hear Akita “playing” (and I use that term loosely). There are no recognisable forms but the rate of change and activity remains on a much more moderate level. In fact I’d go so far as to say that this is what happens when the avant garde and noise  come together. Those looking for Merzbow’s take on electronica will be sadly disappointed.  The liner notes list the instruments as bowed instrumentals, electronic shaver, various metals, transformed audio mixer and tapes. This is harsh noise just not as harsh as some of the  other records he released around the same time. An absolute must.

Merzbow – Turmeric (Blossoming Noise) 2006

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on February 14, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

This is the biggest and longest Merzbow record I’ve tackled. Coming to terms with what’s on here and writing sensibly about it maybe the hardest thing I’ve done on this blog. Essentially Turmeric consists of four discs of electronic noise devoid of recognisable forms. It was released in an edition of 900 and the  four discs are categorised by their colour: Purple, Yellow, Orange and Green. It came out in the midst of the release of many of his Merz recordings. To place it in some form of  Merz-context, Turmeric is the very antithesis of Mr Akita’s more listener friendly side.

Although this is a pure noise record it is a less harsh or frenetic offering than say Pulse Demon or 1930. Each track explores single or a limited number of ideas. The thick layers of noise that I’ve come to expect from his recent output are absent  In fact as far as Merzbow records go it is mostly a simple soul – exploring noise without showing off.  Like any Merzbow record it is very hard to completely pin down. For the most part it lacks  the rollercoaster head-fuck of 1930 or Tauromachine and  it also minimises the bastard factor which is evident in some of his more grindcore inspired recordings.  Consensus on the interwebs seems to suggest that the Black Boned recordings on the “Green” disc are the pick of the tracks. To my ears the two tracks titled Deaf Composition on the purple disc are the best tracks here, particularly the second the one titled 003. It is a difficult record to come to terms with and write about. Although I’ve distinguished it from records like 1930, Turmeric gives me the same head rush because like 1930, it doesn’t matter how many times I listen to it, I’m always going to hear something new. Probably in the top five Merzbow records I’ve heard.

Merzbow – Chabo: 13 Japanese Birds Pt.13 (Important) 2010

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on January 27, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Forget any pre-conceptions you have about this series, because  Merzbow has left his best record to last. Chabo contains one long track titled “Resurrection”. I know that I’ve read elsewhere that Merzbow doesn’t give much thought to his titles in terms of the  context to the noise they are attached to, but I can’t help but wonder whether “Resurrection” is his sign that the pure noise has returned and his experimentation with that damn drum kit is over. Chabo is pure noise through and through. The drum kit seems to have been discarded in favour of all that is good with a white hot Merzbow noise record. I’m putting this one up there with Hybrid Noisebloom, 1930 and Tombo for pure noise pleasure. If the drums are somewhere in here (and I got a sense of them somewhere deep down in the layers around the 26 minute mark) then they are processed to a degree that makes them almost imperceptible.  Chabo is a pure noise record through  and through.  This is THE record in the series that all Merzbow freaks need to own. If this is an indication of what we have to look forward to in 2010 then it might be a very fine year indeed.

Merzbow – 13 Japanese Birds Pt.12: Tsubame (Important) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise, Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 16, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

I’ve been on a bit of a Merz-break. Last year I posted on 28 Merzbow records and that was less than 50% of the Merzbow I actually bought last year. The common theme to many Merzbow reviews I’ve read in recent times is that he is a one dimensional noise artist, but after listening to that many Merzbow records I can attest once and for all that the theory is wrong. My words of advice to anyone looking at taking on Merzbow is to start with a couple of Merz records and then get Pulse Demon, Amlux, Dust of Dreams, 1930 and Sphere. I think those records give you a decent overview and you get a  starting point that allows you to  explore the style of Merzbow that works for you best. In 2010 I’ll probably pick up some of his newer work but a full scale mining of his back catalougue might be for someone else to accomplish (and this from the jerk who a week ago shelled out for Turmeric).

I’m kind of glad that this series is ending although it did  manage to bring some new ideas into his sound. Overall I’m not sure whether it has been successful as a body of work but I might leave that post for 2011. I didn’t necessarily enjoy all of the ideas on this series but there was enough great stuff  to keep me mostly interested throughout the year. Pt.12 opens with one of my favourite tracks of the series, Destroy the Cages, which is chock full of the whirling noise maelstrom and devoid of recognisable forms and reminds me of his work of the late 1990’s. It’s terrific and certainly an antidote to the common drum kit theme of this series. The drum kit makes an appearance in the final two tracks but despite my heavy recent criticism of that damn drum kit,  they’re not too bad. I’ll still be glad to here him put the drum kit away for a while but maybe that’s just me. One more to go.

Prurient – Black Vase (Load) 2005

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise, Prurient with tags , , on December 12, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

My first draft of this post was quite dismissive of Black Vase which might come as a bit of a surprise to some given the previous praise I’ve dumped on Prurient’s work on these pages. The trouble might have been that this is a totally different beast to the other Prurient records I own – Evol’s word for Black Vase was “challenging” – which might be the understatement of the year. This is very challenging stuff indeed. Cocaine Death is almost cuddly compared to some of the sonic nastiness going on here but in many ways Black Vase is no less rewarding. Black Vase doesn’t exactly have a musical theme but it sure as shit has a lyrical theme, that being S&M. Never understood S&M  myself mind, but that hasn’t stopped me enjoying this. The first track Romans Shower displays a certain hatred for the listener with its super high intense frequency which certainly gave me a few painful moments. The lyrics though (and hats of for putting lyric sheets in the booklet) are pervy as can be – well as pervy as they can get when creamed death metal style over the accompanying sonic mess. After the violence of Roman Shower the tracks become, if not easier to listen to then certainly a great deal more tangible with big drum beats and percussive elements anchoring the next two tracks  while noise shears in and out of the cauldron. Even Silver Flashlight which begins in much the same high frequency vein as Roman Shower eventually allows some drumming to ground it all. For noise nerds the real treat is in the 17 minute long title track which is pointless explaining but has some powerful droning elements which I thought were pretty good. From then on Black Vase has those cathartic and violent elements which often anchors the best noise. Although this is certainly not the record if you’re thinking of having a dabble, I think it’s great. Just know what you’re getting yourself in for.

Porn / Merzbow – … and the Devil makes Three (Truth Cult) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , , on November 29, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


I’ve wanted this record for a while and it is only now, thanks to the resurgent Aussie dollar that I could  justify buying it.  Every Merzbow collaboration I’ve heard has been a cracker, particularly the great records he did with Boris and Sunn O))). … and the Devil makes Three might just be in the top three records I’ve heard this year .

Porn are a trio that pump out greasy slabs of the finest sludge metal this side of the Melvins which makes sense given that Porn is also the home  Dale Crover. Now until listening to  …and the Devil makes Three, I’d never heard Porn except on the youtube videos’s I’ve added below and you gotta admit that they certainly fucking rock. On this collaboration  it feels like Merzbow fills in all of the gaps in their sound to create just this big fucking behemoth of noise rock. Fuck it is good and hands down the best thing Merzbow has released this year (so far as I’ve heard anyway). If you ever heard Rock Dream (his live collaboration with Boris) then you might have an idea of just how well Merzbow’s scree and hiss works in the context of metal. I like Porn a bit better than Boris so for my money this is the one to go for.

Merzbow – 13 Japanese Birds Pt.11: Shirasagi (Important) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 29, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

Well at least it’s better than Pt.10. This one has some interesting things going on. Nice psych rock vibe happening on the first track cheerfully named Transformed into Food. The second track Once the human meat is done cut it up and mix with the vegetable curry just sounds a lot like some of the more mediocre tracks that this series has become known for. You know – scree scree, thump thump, chick chick on the cymbals. After hearing this I thought that I might just be becoming a bit of a cunt when it comes to reviewing this series-  you know noise snobbery and all that – so I listened to some of the earlier ones again and Pt.2 is still absolutely fucking essential in my book  and some of those  other early ones are very good indeed. I think it might have been Pt.6 when the tedium set in. I’m really looking forward to him not drumming for a while. Bring on the next phase!

Merzbow – 13 Japanese Birds Pt.10: Niwatori (Important) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 22, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

You’ll never guess what happens on this one. Merzbow drums!!! I mean fuck me! I am so completely blown away. I have never* heard him do that before. It is so original and profound**. Oh boy does he go nuts***. Is there any cowbell you ask? You bet there is some fucking cowbell. Tinky tinky tinky it does and then whoosh – big fucking noise, and thumpa thumpa thumpa go the drums. It’s almost a religious experience****. The three tracks rank among his best*****.

*except for the other nine records in the series oh and Somei and you know a lot of others.

** Fuck, it is dull

*** Yawn

**** If your religion is all about worshipping shit

***** No they don’t, although the last one doesn’t suck quite as hard.


Merzbow – Oersted (Vinyl Communications) 1996

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 2, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


I don’t know where I’ve been living for the last couple of years but in the last couple of months I’ve discovered Besides being a free way of cataloging my music (take that Record Collector!) it is also a great way of picking up out of print releases without having to search ebay every week. I received an email form a reader a couple of weeks ago where he listed his favourite Merzbow records and I was a bit surprised that I had only heard about two of them. Many of his favourite releases are from the pre-laptop era of the mid-1990’s, a period of his work that i don’t know enough about although my thoughts on two of the key release from this period, Pulse Demon and Venerology have appeared on this site. Both of those records are certainly towards the more extreme end of Merzbow’s noise excursions and it is perhaps for that reason I haven’t felt the need to return to those records because to be honest how much of that kind of noise does anyone really need. Well as it pans out quite a bit.  I don’t want to see like an obsessive fucker but since the last Japanese Birds record came in late September I’ve acquired Age of 369/Chant 2, Fantail, Hybrid Noisebloom, Space Metalizer, Camouflage,  Ikebukuro Dada, Rainbow Electronics  2 and his collaboration with Porn. I’m figuring that might be all the Merzbow I need but then I read a recent interview Merzbow did with a French Website where Merzbow hints at a future no-wave influence and you know I’ll be lining up for those records.

Oersted is a pretty harsh Merzbow record with few identifiable forms and it is these sorts of Merzbow records that I’m listening to a lot a the moment.  Experimental musician, Mason Jones, quoted in the Merzbook says this:

“I live by their Noiz. It seems to have no rule, no limits and is totally expansive. I can get lost in those dense textures for hours on end. Philosophically, I think I like noise because it is a collage of sound…What I really want to hear is an unencumbered, original voice leaking through. Of the harsher artists, Merzbow was the most popular – part of this maybe because there are more Merzbow releases and the recordings are easier to find. I think there is more to it than that however. Merzbow’s noise is the result of more editing and a greater variety fo sound textures.

Jone’s thoughts could so easily be applied to Oersted. If you’re a fan of 1930 then this is well worth tracking down (I think you can download it off itunes). Both are towards the harsher end of Merzbows work but both also share a playfulness which isn’t present in the more grindcore offerings of Pulse Demon and Venerology. Just don’t  buy Oersted thinking you might find a beat of some sort. Oersted displays the  sort of noise you can drown in .

Merzbow – Puroland (Ohm) 2001

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on October 29, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


As I searched the internet for info about Puroland I found this rather handy entry on a Merzbow database. This is what Mr Akita has to say about the record:

Puroland is the name of a Sanrio amusement park which is dedicated to Hello-Kitty, located in suburbs of Tokyo. “Pilgrimage to Puroland” is the melancholic first song. I played once this song live in Tokyo. “Celebration Day” is inspired by the song “Celebration Day” of Led Zeppelin (from their album “3”), once I played this song at Fandango, Osaka. “Pleasant Valley Monday” is inspired by the song “Pleasant Valley Sunday” of The Monkees (from their album “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones LTD”). “War Frog” was originally called “Boom Boom Bomb” because of the sound of the bass loop. I played this live many times.

That second last sentence kills me. There is so much over-analysis of Merzbow that the idea that he named a song Boom Boom Bomb because that’s what the bass loop sounded like gives me the flutteries. For your average Merzbow nerd though, Puroland is really good. It’s digital though so if you like the more analogue based stuff then this may not  light up your life. I’m a  bit partial to the digital records so I give this the big thumbs up. The noise Merzbow conjures up on this now out of print release on a small Norwegian label is probably some of the more accessible Merzbow out there and also some of the most un-Merzbow themes you’re likely to hear. The opener begins with a looped dark-folk guitar and voice snippet before the layers of digital noise are allowed to settle over the top of it. There are some beats and strange vocal effects added to the mix as the track progresses. The idea that Pleasant Valley Monday reference the Monkees is just mad because trying to reconcile the rather malevolent and dense fog of noise with the  shiny, uselessness of the Monkees is ultimately pointless although pretty fun. A guitar loop make s a reappearance and on Celebration Day but any link to Zeppelin is kind of baffling. And you know what the final track War Frog, after beginning with some lovely field recordings of birds does have a bass loop that goes boom boom bomb. Classic stuff but for an album inspired by an amusement Park the vibe is not a happy one. In fact its is almost the record of someone who mourns for a society hell bent o the most pointless consumerism. Although this is out of print there are copies still around which oddly enough are not going for stupid money.

Merzbow – Bariken (Blossoming Noise) 2005

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on October 22, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


Along with Dust of Dreams, this is my favourite Merzbow record. Blossoming Noise has released some of the finest Merzbow records out there at the moment (Senmaida, Zophorus) but Bariken is now out of print and well, I’ve already voiced my opinion on what I think of that concept. I mean seriously how fucking hard can it be to keep a  record in print. If you have any interest in Merzbow at all then you need to get yourself a copy of Bariken. One of the reasons it works so well for me is that it is equal parts noise maelstrom and recognisable forms. Minka Pt.1 reminds me of the opening of Bauhaus Double Dare which I think is fucking excellent because you know, I like Bauhaus, yet at the same time the noise is nudging the higher thresholds of Merzbow’s output. The second track, Bariken,  is all industrial bombast and crunchy Dilloway-esque effects and I put my hand up and say I really enjoy when he goes a bit industrial and in my opinion it anchors some of his finer work. On most of the  tracks a sound akin to a squadron of WW2 Spitfires overheard makes an appearance. The same  effect anchors Minka Pt.2 which almost suffocates the other layers to create a track full of ominous dread.Minka Pt.3 begins as all crackles and kitchen clatter before some tribal drumming begins and some micro vocal dispatches makes an appearance. It’s almost a bit like Nurse with Wound at times. The whole album  is rounded off by one of Merzbow’s finest moments – the epic Bariken (reprise), 30 minutes of noise textures and industrial rhythm menace before evolving into a noise-ambient masterpiece. Nearly perfect.

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