Soleilmoon Recordings (2010)
Who woulda’ thunk it? Merzbow can do subtle. Perhaps those familiar with his early recordings are aware of this.
I don’t mean subtle in a Collapse 12 Floors or Ikebukuro Dada kind of way either. It seems that in his pre-digital days, recordings of which make up all ten of the discs in this absolutely kick-ass box set, Mr Akita was forced to build his sheets of noise piece by piece using all manner of sounds to create a landscape that ebbs and flows smoothly between musique concrete and all out butchery.
Merzbient is a slightly misleading title because this certainly isn’t a collection of Eno-esque experiments, but still the ‘music’ here is far more subtle and warm than his shiny laptop allows for. Is Merzbient truly an amazing collection of tracks or is it simply refreshing to hear this completely different side to Merzbow? Either way I’ve been playing these discs a lot since they arrived.
It’s impossible to go through such a huge collection in any real detail, but the scope of these recordings is phenomenal. At various points Akita gives us a collage of atonal symphonies in the closest thing to traditional music I’ve heard him do yet; fluttering synthesisers that burst into carnival-esque pastiches; Kevin Drumm styled bass drones; twanging traditional instruments (similar to the opening of Metamorphosis); Japanese prog rock freak outs (a signal to the very roots of Merzbow); haunting samples of Big Band records; stabbing violins a la Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, and Autechre-ish stutter.
That isn’t the half of it though, and overall what really strikes me about Merzbient is how human it sounds. So warm, almost comforting despite its eerie atmospheres, tension and horror movie vibe. Again, perhaps I feel this way because I’m not familiar with these elements when it comes to Merzbow, which makes it a refreshing experience. It seems I’ll have to dig up more of his early stuff to know for sure. Ouroboros was a fun listen but I’m afraid Merzbient trumps that by light years in terms of Mr Akita’s 2010 releases.