Merzbow Marathon: F.I.D.

Merzbow: F.I.D.
Fourth Dimension Records (2006)

For me, the stand-out Merzbow records are those where Mr. Akita plays with a varied palette. The six tracks that make up this two-disc set are among his most diverse rackets. And, on the whole it’s an absolute cracker.

As first cab of the rank, Exteriorization?@no. 1 is fairly standard Merzbow fare made up of a bubbly drone and warped shrieks of feedback. Forest of Kelp is where shit gets interesting. It starts with a mid-range buzz, that sound you hear when walking underneath power lines, and some subtle, shifting static. Then something totally un-Merzbow happens. The buzz and static disappear, leaving a quiet ringing sound and some ultra reverbed laser zaps. The vibe is cavernous despite being so minimal and it sucks you into the abyss, falling endlessly. Mr. Akita continues drowning his noise in reverb and delay for twenty minutes, and for me it never gets boring. Not once. This is the subtlety I wanted to hear him explore further after listening to Keio Line. I didn’t think I’d get my wish so soon.

The opening track on disc two surprises us by gently fading away rather than ending abruptly like most of Merzbow’s work does. Meanwhile, Transition is potentially the most minimalistic thing I’ve ever heard Merzbow do. It’s like John Weise with the dial turned down to one. A bunch of skittery blips, squeaks and sound recordings played in fast forward, all of it incredibly soft and delicate, which is a soothing experience despite the schizo madness of the sound collage. I want more of this Merzbow, please!

Rest assured we’re also treated to plenty of skin shredding throbs, scree and terror. Set closer Kongara sounds like a disco for rejected replicants. It pulses like techno and shrieks like Black Metal until the 4/4 ‘beat’ starts to warp like a rip in the fabric of time. These frenetic, more traditional Merzbow moments become that much more powerful alongside the restrained moments outlined above. Mr. Akita is toying with us, and it’s bucket loads of fun.

There are plenty of Merzbow haters out there, people convinced that Mr. Akita is churning out the same crap over and over again. F.I.D dispels that myth completely. It proves that not only is Merzbow a great noise artist, but that noise itself is a multi-faceted genre capable of more depth and excitement than the general music listening public will ever give it credit for. As far as I’m concerned, this record is a must have for noise nerds and Merzbow fans a like.

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