Dad and I always used the same things for different ends. When he bought a shortwave radio, he listened to the BBC World Service and whatever Turkish-language broadcasts he could pick up. I listened to the atmospherics and the numbers stations. When he bought a CD player, he played CDs on it. I also played CDs on it, and used the pause button and jog dial to create my own impromptu remixes. Small wonder I ended up a Merzbow fan; all of Masami Akita’s records have the feeling of snapping on a shortwave radio inside your head and tuning it to the sound of the atmospherics coming out of his head.
Door Open at 8 AM has that station-between-the-stations feeling throughout: it’s a mixture (Mixtur, ha ha) of jazz/prog-rock record samples and seething, shearing electronics plus live-action recordings. It’s roughly closest in spirit to Merzbeat, both in the nature of the material transformed and the way the transformations play out. It hasn’t yet grown on me the way Merzbuddha and Yoshinotsune have, but I know it will—Merzbow’s music requires that you approach with empty hands, or you never seize it for yourself. It’s music you listen into, not just music you listen to.
Akita’s love of jazz and prog-rock come through in his own music, but not in predictable ways. Instead of aping the format of either, he tries to evoke the same sense of adventure—just with a different set of sounds. If a piece goes on to such length that it just becomes a part of the environment, that’s okay—there are jazz pieces that are no less self-effacing, and for the same reasons. I couldn’t describe to you every portion of Coltrane’s “Ascension”, but its overall feeling is unmistakable.
There’s countless instances of this sort of thing throughout Doors. Midway through the ten-minute “Lyons Wake”, there’s a sputtering racket that by degrees reveals itself to be a frantically cascading drumroll. One of them’s “noise” and the other one’s “music”; one of them is “rhythm” and the other is “chaos”—in short, it’s the same kind of knocking-together of the expectations that happened with “Ascension” or even Albert Ayler’s Spirital Unity, even if the latter is a lot more conventionally melodic.
Sometimes Akita just goes for pure sonic adventure instead. The opening of “Africa Brass Session, Vol. 2” (the album’s twenty-minute centerpiece) mixes a heavy pulsating sample with his twittering, swooping EMS synthi; like the central throb in Merzbuddha’s “mantras”, we come back to it time and again only to find that we have probably changed a good deal more than it has. The rest of the album, come to think of it, is built along the same lines, and I imagine I’ll find all the more in it when I listen to it again and again over the course of the coming year.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind