You might not ever have guessed it from listening to most of his records, but Masami Akita, a/k/a, Merzbow, harbors a love of jazz and progressive rock that comes out through his own music in the oddest ways. Before he started Merzbow per se, he was drumming with a prog-style group, and his approach to noise reminded me more of the sensibilities of a jazzman than a shock-tactics terrorist. With his album Door Open at 8AM, he used jazz as the raw material and created a kind of meta-jazz. With Merzbeat, he’s taken what sounds like his own prog / jazz playing, run it through his digital shredder, joined the shreds end-to-end and made something that reminds us of prog-rock the way prog-rock itself reminds us of classical music, or jazz, or any of the half-a-hundred other kinds of music it also freely assimilates.
I’ve been listening to Merzbow’s records for over a decade now, but I didn’t really start hearing what he was really doing until I listened to Amlux, and applied what I heard there to everything else of his (Merzbeat included). Amlux sparked a realization that may seem obvious, but wasn’t really at the forefront of my mind before: just because something is loud or soft doesn’t mean it’s meant to be obnoxious or restful, respectively, and if something (e.g., Merzbow’s own electronic splatters) twitters and screeches like a bird that doesn’t mean it’s meant to remind us of a bird, or evoke a bird. Read more
In the entire time I’ve been following Justin Broadrick’s career, he alone has assumed as many side-project identities as each member of any given band have released solo albums. Nominally, Broadrick is known for his longstanding band Godflesh (about which I really need to write a few things once I get the last of their albums in), but has worn so many other faces during his career that you could get lost: Jesu, Ice, Krackhead, Fall of Because, and Final, just to name a few. And, amazingly, almost all of these projects are good in their own ways; they’re not throwaways but clearly different facets of the same man’s creative output.
Final was actually one of Broadrick’s very first project names — as far back as 1983 he was making noise-blowout recordings under that name, many of which were edited together as a bonus track on the first Final CD, One. I picked up One based on Justin’s involvement and was not quite prepared for what I heard: the man who had given us the drum-machine-propelled and slashing-guitar violence of Godflesh could also do uneasy-listening or “illbient” landscapes just as easily. The Final formula seemed like a loose outgrowth of the kind of work Broadrick did when he remixed other people’s tracks — he’d ram them through a sampler and reconstruct them in fascinating ways. Likewise, with Final, he’d take individual snips of sound and create little drifting dramas of sound out of them. Read more
Tags: Justin Broadrick