I’ve long felt that the big difference between Merzbow and almost every other “noise artist”, whether from Japan or anywhere else, was that Merzbow was at least as interested in the art as he was the noise. Sure, you can point to a good many of his records and say they’re the most earsplitting thing since the last time a squadron of jet planes strafed an aluminum factory, but he hasn’t limited himself to being about mere volume or overkill. With each of his recent releases he’s found another incremental refinement, another element to add, another way to tackle and transform the raw material he uses.
The approach has remained pretty consistent, though. Merzbow layers loops of sound and whorls of piercing noise on top of each other to create sonic states of mind — sometimes abrasive, sometimes placid, sometimes ominous. Sometimes he goes for sheer sonic overload without much in the way of composition or construction (Venereology); sometimes he drops back and creates something so placid and inwardly quiet you’d think it was from a totally different artist (Music for Bondage Performance). With an album title like Merzbuddha and tracks named “Mantra 1” through “Mantra 3” I expected something more like the latter, but this disc is actually closer in spirit to the more recent Yoshinotsune and Amlux, and has the same disciplined audacity of both of those records. Read more