Merzbow: Age of 369/Chant 2
Extreme Records (1996)
There’s a lot that I should love about this double-disc compilation of Merzbow cassettes from the 80s, but for reasons out of my grasp I’m not feeling this much at all. Merzbient made me incredibly curious about Mr Akita’s analogue work, so much so that I want to hunt down more. While Age of 369 / Chant 2 is choc-full of carefully pieced (piled?) together snippets of musical samples, voices, objects smashing and ‘instruments’ clanging it lacks….chutzpah.
Six of the seven tracks are heavy on mechanical drones and all have a very live-in-the-room feel which differs greatly form his more recent, digital output. There are some fine moments, such as the snippets of Elvis that flicker in and out of the mix at one point and the semi-tortured screams that are manipulated on the opening track, but Mr Akita’s propensity to allow this miasma to bubble away aimlessly is ultimately a let down.
I imagine that in the context of ‘82 or ‘83, when this stuff was recorded and released, such a mish mash of grating clamor must have been unique. Perhaps as a ‘relic’ these two cassettes warranted a digital re-release, but with all the other noise that’s happened since that era Age of 369/Chant 2 sounds a little bit….meh. Can I hear you say that maybe I’m overdoing the Merzbow with this whole marathon thing? Am I simply Merzbow-ed out at the moment? Ha! That couldn’t be further from the truth because I’ve already moved on from Age of 369/Chant 2 and the next Merzbow record I plan to write about is a fucking corker.
But you know, there are plenty of you out there that will probably hate that record while rating Age of 369/Chant 2. And this is what becomes more and more intriguing to me, the subjective randomness of the genre. The more noise I listen to the harder it gets to pin point why one record turns me on and another bores me, or why someone else is fascinated by what makes my ears glaze over. Not to say that Age of 369/Chant 2 is completely shit or irrelevant. There’s just better out there. Although the cover art and cd booklet are a nice series of collaged porn images, Japanese fabrics (?) and typography. Whether that makes this worth the listen or not, well……….