Merzbow: Great American Nude / Crash For Hi-Fi
Alchemy Records (1991)
Given that I’ve written on here about my distaste for pure, uninterrupted wall-of-noise records, I shouldn’t like this Merzbow release as much as I do. Sometimes, when the mood strikes I’ve been able to appreciate relentless records like The Cherry Point’s Night of the Bloody Tapes, or Lasse Marhaug’s The Great Silence. Now let’s add Great American Nude / Crash For Hi-Fi to that list as well.
This is the oldest Merzbow recording I’ve heard so far, and I can’t say whether it’s indicative of his career at that point in time. Also, seven of the eight tracks were recorded live during a tour of the USA, and this is what makes it work for me.
Pretty much the entire album trades in an endless wash of squeak, hiss and rumble, as if Mr Akita is forcing hundreds of sounds through a meat grinder and the end result is a raw mince for the ears. The difference here is that the live environment gives this hot mess some room to breathe. I’m curious as to whether these tracks have been recorded straight off the mixer because to these ears you can actually here how the acoustics of each venue effects what he’s spewing out. Or maybe it’s because he wasn’t relying as heavily on his laptop in 1991, so the results don’t feel as cold as his later ‘wall of noise’ records such as Mercurated. The liner notes state that Mr Akita played ‘live electronics, found metals and reiko a-bowed instruments’.
Whatever the case, I dig seven of the eight tracks here.
The closing number, Crash for Hi-Fi doesn’t work as well for me despite it being an unusual (to these ears) example of his work. Recorded in the studio, Crash for Hi-Fi splices his trademark scree with samples of old rock and funk songs (I’m sure there’s some Black Sabbath towards the end). It’s a disjointed and Dadaist ride that’s at odds with the rest of the record. Crash for Hi-Fi reminds me a lot of his Collapse 12 Floors record from 1999 and that one doesn’t really work for me either.