Merzbow Marathon – Merzbow vs. Nordvargr: Partikel

Merzbow vs. Nordargr: Partikel
Cold Spring (2004)

Just over twelve months ago I returned from a trip to Japan, during which I purchased an abundance of Merzbow records, most at insanely cheap prices. Would you believe that I’ve only managed to listen to a couple of them so far, not to mention that I’ve picked up a handful more of his records since returning from Japan (of those, at least I listened to and enjoyed Merzbient and Ouroborous)

Anyway, what I’m saying is that i really need to listen to those records but at the rate I keep purchasing new music I’m never going to get around to it. So, I’m going to listen to, and write about all the parts of my Merzbow collection that I’ve not heard yet.

And I’ll attempt to do it all this month, February.

Yes it’s a crazy goal that I probably won’t achieve but dammit I’m going to try. And yes I know that on my initial return from Japan I said that I wanted to give myself time to truly take in each Merzbow release I’d bought, but that obviously isn’t working. So I’m taking one for the team. Or something.

I’m starting my Merzbow Marathon with Partikel, described as a collaboration between Mr. Akita and Nordvargr, the Scandinavian Industrial/Dark Ambient maestro who’s been around for years but I’m not really familiar with. I guess I’m cheating a bit because I’ve actually been listening to this for a few weeks now and I have to say that it’s easily cracked my list of Merzbow favourites. Like Merzbuta, Partikel toys with glitchy and skittering beats similar to the most challenging moments of Autechre (think Draft 7.30 or Untilted). But unlike Merzbuta, rythm is merely the base for a spectrum of moody arrangements,  tides of noise and creepy atmospheres.

Similar to Yoshinotsune, here Merzbow’s trademarks are used to build tension and release, to inspire imaginary worlds rather than solely challenge the concept, constructs and constraints of music. Not being familiar with Nordvargr’s back catalog I can’t say for sure that his influence is what makes Partikel such a trip, but this the least Merzbow sounding Merzbow record I’ve heard yet. And I like it, I like it a lot.

The third and final track in particular, a 20+ minute epic driven by a bulging metronomic rhythm built out of bass heavy fuzz is my favourite. It rolls on in an endless trance, mesmerising in its repetitiveness, punctuated by swirls of feedback and distorted squall. It’s hypnotic and noisy, like super damaged Krautrock.

Partikel is the first in a trilogy of collaborations between these two artists and while it’s no longer available from the Cold Spring site I’ve seen it floating around on eBay from time to time. I’m very keen to hear the following two records in this series, along with whatever else Nordvargr’s back catologue has to offer.


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