Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Merzbow - Kamadhenu

Merzbow - Kamadhenu
Hypnogogia CD. GO01.
350 Copies.

To Dusseldorf to sup ale and meander along the Rhine footpath smoking cigars all the while wondering how vegetarians manage to feed themselves in a country where meat comes on every plate. I wonder where Masami eats when he tours here? What does the biggest veggie name in noise eat when he’s in sausage land? Does he bring his own pack up? And which are his better years? The analogue or the digital? I dare say that digital era Merzbow has its fans but those analogue releases seem to have more going for them. There’s more happening, more intent, more balls, more shock, more variety, more pain, even the covers were better. Now all we get are pictures of animals and noise made using Merzware. I imagine a Masami built software program that lets you create a noise work in real time - no editing, no mixing, no need to listen to it again - there’ll even be a track name generator. All of it designed to increase the productivity and decrease the involvement.

I can remember when I really used to like Merzbow. Some of his early works are amongst my favourite listens  - Batztoutai With Material Gadgets, the split 7” with Lasse Marhaug. Green Wheels is a classic even if the CD half of my release is buggered due to a fault a the pressing plant meaning it hits a recurring loop about twenty minutes in … actually, maybe thats an improvement. I even get a kick out of listening to the split with Ladybird - Japanese karaoke squawk in one channel and Merzbow squiggling away in the other. Where did all the fun go Masami? When I got to see Merzbow play for the first time he was already into the laptop as musical instrument and with the introduction of the laptop the beginning of the end of my interest in his work. At the 2007 No Fun Masami picked up a junk guitar and thrashed along with his laptops but for me it was too little too late. The laptops, the incessant release program, the way that labels line up to put out every last second of his Merzfarting leaves me feeling totally ambivalent towards Masami and his Merzbow outings. And whilst I’m here whats all this Merzbient ambient thing going on? Yours through for just £102.49p.

When I was in paper mode Blossoming Noise used to send me Merzbow box sets to review and I gave them a fair crack of the whip. Whilst listening to them I tried to pick out the samples of chicken noises and found myself being drawn in and enjoying his work once more. The sounds were distinct, identifiable, most tracks coming with that great Merzbow underchug of throb with all manner of swirl and chaos laid on top. But I didn’t find myself going back to them. I eventually got tired of seeing them doing nothing and flogged the lot on eBay [I don’t do much eBaying but I reckon I’ve sold more Merzbow product on there than any other artist - there seems to be no lack of people willing to buy it either].

Kamadhenu is my first chance to catch up on Merzbow since those Blossoming Noise days and I can’t say I’m all that enthused. My first mistake was to play this through the PC. For Merzbow you need plenty of wallop [which makes the Merzbow iTunes page even more laughable] so to the stereo and volume please maestro. And after several spins only mild interest was detected. For this is noise by rote and only briefly engaging. In fact you’d be hard pushed to call it noise, for the most part it sounds like a 70’s sci-fi movie in which the the main computer room goes tits up, imagine lots of tape spools going jerkily backwards and forwards until smoke comes out of them. Hey ho.

I sincerely hope that there are ‘interesting’ Merzbow records out there but I have neither pockets deep enough nor time enough to discover them for myself.


Steve said...

My favourite Merzbow track is on that Tokyo 7"EP..the only Merzbow I need. Being a long time veggie and no stranger to Deutschland, my I just say ... Pizza Hut!
Excellent words said there sir.

Anonymous said...

Best Merz review (merzview) in years! Thank you sir.