Archive for Merzbow

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.

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.

Merzbow – Kujakubato: 13 Japanese Birds Pt.7 (Important) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on July 28, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


Phewww! He had me a bit worried there. After the mediocre tracks on the last instalment of this series I had my concerns that he was running out of ideas. Pt.7 is absolutely fucking terrific. Nearly as good as Pt.2 in fact. For once the gonzo drumming has been set to one side. Instead we get Merzbow acting like a solemn metronome on the first track before settling into a standard rock beat on the second and allowing his variety of analogue machines create the necessary fuzzy tension.  I think it is also a record that benefits from playing very loud. For a lot of noise records, unless the volume is turned up, the listener can miss a lot of the action in the tracks and the whole thing can sound like aural wallpaper. Turn this one up and you’ll hear fleeting Rehberg-style electronic thunderbolts and  those layers of unpleasantness that weave in and out of his best work to become something very satisfying. On Kujakubato he again allows light  to penetrate his noise (even on the metal heavy third track). There are moments of clarity and space and it is for these reasons that critics in the future may remember this series. Not just because the great man went all spazzo on the drums.

Merzbow – Kamo: 13 Japanese Birds Part.6 (Important) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on June 25, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


I figured I’ve been writing my posts on the Japanese Birds series by comparing them to each other, which is fine if you are following them but if you didn’t sign up for the subscription and were looking for some advice on which ones to buy my  posts probably aren’t helping much. Well I can say with some certainty to stay the fuck away from this one. It is the most boring of the series yet. It contains the best titles though. Track one is titled “Bird killer Governor Ishihara deserves to die”, which, you know is cheery. But the tracks themselves are shit dull. Lots of gonzo, nutso drumming, mountains of scree and pulse and oscillations but nothing that would interest even a casual listener, no variety, no texture,. Fuck all really. If you are keen to dabble I think you should go for Part 2. It is still the absolute fucking  pick of them. Part.3 and 4 are also mighty fine but seriously go for Part 2. Jesus, I’ve got another seven of these buggers coming and I pray that Part 6 was a glitch rather than  trend.

Merzbow – Uzura: 13 Japanese Birds Pt.5 (Important) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise, Uncategorized with tags , , on June 7, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


The intent behind Uzura is a bit different to his earlier four releases in his series. The titles of the  three tracks is Requiem for the 259000 quails culled at a farm in Toyohashu Part 1-3, so I suppose this release is firmly in the vein of Merzbow’s other angry message albums like Bloody Sea, Peace for Animals and Mizano. Except this, like its previous albums in the 13 Bird series, follows a similar formula. Thingskick off with the mad drumming overlaid with Merzbow’s patented scree and hiss. I’ve heard it before and while it is fine for what it is , I’m was looking forward to something a bit fresher. The odd thing about these Birds records is the fact that on each of them the final two tracks are the ones which are truly interesting. The second track starts off as a generic Merzbow track before almost stopping dead half way through and re-emerging beat-filled and full of light before it gradually becomes denser. Its bang on full of those swirling textures and surprises that make Merzbow ‘s work so exciting. The final track starts off with some subtle mad drumming and a sound that is something akin to an oboe and what initially sounds like human wailing quickly becomes a different oboe-type noise before sounding again like something almost mournful and human. Shit it’s good. Almost like free-jazz, goth Merzbow but quiet and restrained.  It of course quickens, slows down, adds some retro synth noodling and that siren effect he uses so well.  This is another great addition to the series. Can he keep it up is the question.

Merzbow – Doors Open at 8 am (Alien8 Recordings) 2000

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on May 27, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


I haven’t had a guest reviewer for a while and Miles, one of my lastfm friends,  was good enough to jot down his thoughts on Merzbow’s awesome Doors Open….. It’s a great album and one which I’ve never got around to posting on myself. In fact all of the Alein8 Merzbow releases are pretty essential. Cheers Miles, great review.

On Alien8’s website they dedicate Door Open At 8 AM to all Merzbow “non-believers,” which I found very fitting. This (along with Keio Line) is one of the albums I play for people when trying to turn them on to Merzbow. What makes this album such a good release is that it’s tied so well together by its theme, which is essentially Akita’s take on jazz.  Merzbow has other very rhythmic albums, but he doesn’t go in the electronica direction of albums like Merzbeat or Merzbird, instead filling these seven tracks will various samples of piano, bass, guitar, and of course fantastic jazz drum loops. It makes for the perfect album to point to in defiance when people accuse Merzbow of being repetitive.  “Tony Williams Deathspace” is a genuinely catchy two minutes, but the real highlights of this album are “Jimmy Elvins in Traffic” and “Lyons Wake.” These take the idea of “Merzjazz” and do it just right, each starting with very distinct jazz motifs and returning to them throughout. I can’t review this album without mentioning “Africa Brass.” Supposedly a Coltrane cover, (though Africa Brass was an album, not an actual song.) I think it is good, but it doesn’t work as well as the two I already mentioned, or even the fantastic closer “Metro and Bus.” What truly makes this album so good though is that while you can recognize it as Merzbow at any time, it really sounds like a jazz album. Highly recommended.

Merzbow – Karasu: 13 Japanese Birds Pt.4 (Important) 2009

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on April 26, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


Fuck this is good. Another month and another release in the quite frankly, fucking awesome Japanese Birds series. Last week Karasu found it’s way into my letter box. Three tracks as per usual. All three follow the same mad drumming combined with analog power electronics  vibe of the previous releases in the series although I think  Karasu, might be the pick of them yet. The three tracks are all very lengthy yet never become boring. In fact he seems to be moving his noise around a fair bit more on Karasu than he did on the first three, kind of like what he does on 1930. Although I think this is a cracking Merzbow record, I’m not sure if I’m up for another nine of these because I don’t see how he can continue to male each one different. I hope I’m proved wrong because so far he’s done everything right with this series. All three tracks on Karasu are extremely strong but my favourite track is Morgue because have you ever wondered what it would be sound like if you went to a Lightning Bolt show and put your head in the speaker so all you could hear is a distorted roar with some nutty drums hammering away?  Well I do now. Thanks Mr Akita!

Merzbow – Yurikamome: 13 Japanese Birds Pt.3 (Important) 2009

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


Another month another Merzbow record. This 13 Japanese Birds series is turning out just great. Despite the  common theme of percussive elements (bonzo free drumming),  I don’t think he has repeated himself yet. The first track on Pt.3 is an absolute fucking monster. Well over half an hour of electronic fuckery overlayed with mad drumming but on this one the drums are much looser. In fact I’d go as far to say he seems really  relaxed. The only thing wrong with it is it’s too long and if he wants to make tracks this long he needs to add a bit more interest (see 1930). The last two tracks are crackers. The second has an industrial loop that had me thinking of a track on Double Leopard’s Hole is True record. The final track may be the most un-Merzbow thing I’ve heard him do. In another universe it might just be a normal rock song considering the electronic scree is replaced with a decidedly rock fuzz. I think I still like Pt.2 a bit better. It’s a line ball decision but that’s just my taste.

Merzbow – Tombo (Fellacoustic) 2008

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


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.

Richard Pinhas and Merzbow – Keio Line (Cuneiform) 2008

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise, Richard Pinhas with tags , , on March 14, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


Had I actually heard this last year, it may well have displaced the unbelievably good Burning Star Core’s Challenger from the top spot on my Best of 2008 list. I’ve only heard a couple of Merzbow’s collaborations with other artists. The stuff he did with Boris on Rock Dream was tremendous stuff. So too were the collaborations with Carlos Giffoni and Sonic Youth. His split record with Bastard Noise I could do without but in general, his collaborative work has been just dandy. But this record blows everything else I’ve heard him do, in a collaborative sense, away. This is now in my ten favourite albums of all time. I’m not sure which record got dislodged but something has to move to make room. For the regular Merzbow fan, Keio Line has Merzbow complimenting the sublime experimental guitar of the great French composer, Richard Pinhas, to awesome effect. In some ways it reminded me of the KTL records where Peter Rehberg adds electronic nastiness to the  doom laden guitars of O’Malley.  But Keio Line is better than that. Pinhas and Merzbow have created a masterful , noisy ambient, experimentally  subtle record that adds a new perspective to  my understanding of Merzbow as an artist. This is an absolute must have if you are a Merzbow tragic such as myself. This puts a ends the idea that I perpetuated on this blog that his 2008 output was for the most part pretty ordinary because the man had the good sense to release this and this makes up for oh so many sins.

KK Null – Fertile (Touch) 2007

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , , on March 14, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


At the moment I’m trying t concentrate on records that I’ve had for a while but for whatever reason, I haven’t posted on yet. Fertile is my first experience of KK Null (otherwise known as Kazuyuki Kishino) the prolific and well known Japanese noise artist. I’d heard of KK Null in the  past but always in the  context of his collaborations with other noise artists like Merzbow and Z’ev. I actually bought this when I was going through a “no more noise” phase at some stage last year and it remained unplayed for some time as a result. The reason I bought it was to get a better understanding of how noise artists use field recordings effectively. At times I I’ve listened to records that are supposed to have field recordings on them and, to be honest, I just don’t hear them. I think there is sometimes a desire for noise artists to process their field recordings in such a way to make them impossible to detect. KK Null on the  other hand has a light touch to the processing of his recordings and words fail me in describing Fertile and just how much I love this record. This is the sound of growing up in the tropics of Northern Australia, the insects and the wildlife. 

I pinched this off the Touch Records website. 

“In June of 2006 i had the good fortune of visiting Darwin in the Northern Territory in Australia and explored in Kakadu National Park with some good friends. I took my digital recorder along with me and did some live field recordings there. First we encountered a flock of wild birds (Little Corella or Cacatua Pastinator) just beside the South Alligator River, and then we happened to find “bush fire” flaring just beside the road we were on. I also had a unique opportunity to record a magnificent symphony orchestra of insects, frogs and birds in wetlands just before sunset.

At that time i had no idea or no specific purpose for using these field recordings, and in the middle of working on this album [Fertile] in my home studio, suddenly came up with the idea of mixing these field recordings into some of the tracks that were unfinished.

I felt comfortable with layering & mixing different sounds from different locations and times, digital and analogue sounds into one piece. I like also the balance of spontaneity (field recording) and intentional act (studio recording).”

%d bloggers like this: