Most people would probably find an unintentional laugh in me saying that some Merzbow albums are nowhere nearly as interesting as others. It does have the makings of a comedy sketch: you have someone listening to one long blur of noise and gushing “Exquisite!” and then listening to another long, equally indistinguishable blur of noise and wrinkling his nose in distate. The joke isn’t lost on me, believe me.
I write these reviews not just for other fans but for people who don’t know anything about whatever subject I’ve tackled, and so I owe them at least one discussion of what to me is a lesser Merzbow album and why. The great ones, like Merzbuddha or Amlux, seem able to pull endless amounts of invention out of thin air, and have a focus to them from start to finish. The lesser ones sound like the kindling is there but not the spark that will touch them off.
Dharma is in that spirit: it sounds like bits and pieces for another, more powerfully defined album that wasn’t recorded. The title hints at it being something of a cousin to Merzbuddha, but the grab-bag of track names on the record don’t quite up hold that end of the bargain. Not that such a thing is required: most Merzbow song titles have been for flavor rather than as some kind of explicit descriptor. It’s when compared to other and more conceptually coherent work he’s done that the shortcomings become clear. Read more