collage artist Kurt Schwitters which he called “The Cathedral
of Erotic Misery”. He made an art from oddments
he picked up from the street, just as I make sound from the scum
that surrounds my life. I was very inspired by Dada and
Surrealism. Probably the greatest idea of Surrealism for me
is “Everything is Erotic, Everywhere Erotic”. for me, Noise
is the most erotic form of sound…that’s why all of my
works relate to the erotic.” — Masami Akita
The Tokugawa government laid out in 1742 the foundation of crime laws, which spelled out seven different types of punishment – death, exile, slavery, forced labour and so forth, as well as four kinds of torture – .whip (mutchiuchi), pressing stone (ishidaki), bend by rope (ebizeme) and hung by rope (tsurizeme). It has to be noted that all four official methods of torture from this period ore still considered the main stream torture patterns in the S&M; ort today. You could say the foundation of today’s S&M; art was laid down then. (the entirety)
What first attracted you to Noise?
I was influenced by aggressive Blues Rock guitar sounds like Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed, Robert Fripp and fuzz organ sounds such as Mike Ratledge of Soft Machine. But the most structured Noise influence would have to be Free Jazz such as Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and Frank Wright. I saw the Cecil Taylor Unit in 1973 and it was very influential. I was a drummer for a free form Rock band in the late ’70s and I became very interested in the pulse beat of the drums within Free Jazz. I thought it was more aggressive than Rock drums. I also became interested in electronic kinds of sounds. I started listening to more electro-acoustic music like Pierre Henry, Stockhausen, Fancois Bayle, Gordon Mumma and Xenakis. Then I found the forum for mixing these influences into pure electronic noise. I was trying to create an extreme form of free music. In the beginning, I had a very conceptual mind set. I tried to quit using any instruments which related to, or were played by, the human body. It was then that I found tape. I tried to just be the operator of the tape machine– I’m glad that tape is a very anonymous media. My early live performances were very dis-human and dis-communicative. I was using a slide projector in a dark room at that point. I was concentrating on studio works until 1989 then I assembled some basic equipment before I started doing live Noise performances. Equipment included an audio mixer, contact mike, delay, distortion, ring modulator and bowed metal instruments. Basically, my main sound was created by mixer feedback. It was not until after 1990, on my first American tour, that I started performing live Noise Music for presentation to audiences. The first US tour was a turning point for finding a certain pleasure in using the body in the performance. Right now I’m using mixer feedback with filters, ring, DOD Buzz Box, DOD Meat Box, and a Korg multi-distortion unit. I am using more physically rooted Noise Music not as conceptually anti-instrument and anti-body as before. If music was sex, Merzbow would be pornography. (cont.)
“A while ago I had a Mercedes 230 that I didn’t drive much. The police told me that I had to move it or they’d tow it away. Well, I didn’t want to keep it and I didn’t have anywahere to store it so I decided to use it for something else. I rigged the car’s CD player with our latest release of Merzbow’s “Noise Embryo” CD so that the music started when the car was turned on and it was impossible to turn it off. I put it up for sale as an extremely limited edition of the “Noise Embryo” CD but no one ever bought it, and in the end the car broke down. So we took out the CD and got rid of the car. Now I’m thinking about if it’s possible to release a record in a Boeing 747…”
The noise music of Merzbow
by Carlos M. Pozo
Merzbow & Genesis P-Orridge A Perfect Pain (Cold Spring Records): ”This is a whistle-stop journey through the redded tooth and claw of Natural Selection, where the strong survive and the weak are incapable of stemming the bloody flow that Masami Akita has induced from their beleagured eardrums. A long-awaited masterpiece.’ — Synthesis
Alec Empire vs. Merzbow Live at CBGB’s 1998 (Digital Hardcore): ‘The CD races through all 58mins at a phenomenal speed, leaving a burning trail of splatter breaks and white noise in its wake. There are many moments when the sheer volume of different layers of beats and screaming machines threatens to collapse under its own weight but its fascinating to listen to and spot where the underlaying substructure of cohesion is coming from. Often this is supplied by the strong and driving rhythms which alternate between styles such as drum n bass, industrial and hip hop loops, but at other times its the job of the pounding synths to maintain at least a shadow of order over the run-away percussion.’ — amazon review
Merzbow / Carlos Giffoni / Jim O’Rourke Electric Dress (No Fun): ‘Whirring static, spurting effects, heavy drones: everything you’d expect from three prolific noisemakers is here, all doled out in big, dense brush strokes. Yet Electric Dress is no oppressive onslaught. Each participant is careful to share and trade sonic space with the other, and what could have been claustrophobic or suffocating is instead a balanced improvisation, akin to a thoughtful free jazz session.’ — Pitchfork
Maldoror (Merzbow & Mike Patton) She (Ipecac): ‘I think the last reviewer, who gave one star, was possibly expecting something a bit more musical from mike patton, or perhaps has never heard merzbow.’ — amazon review
Merzbow & Boris Sun Baked Snow Cave (HydraHead) ‘In all likelihood, you’ll have to take a break from Sun Baked Snow Cave halfway through and listen to some mainstream pop to cleanse your palate — otherwise the degenerating sine waves and disintegrating guitars will start to sound like the showers at Auschwitz.’ — Splendid Magazine
Beyond Ultra Violence, a Merzbow Documentary (1998)
MERZBOW – Part of Viva2 documentary from 2000 [VHS rip]
Masami Akita’s supergroup Bust Monsters live ’91
Merzbow ‘Minus Zero’ music video
Merzbow live at the No Fun Fest 2007
Masonna and Merzbow live in Osaka w/ interview
Sonic Youth w/ Merzbow @ Roskilde Festival, 2005
Boris & Merzbow Boiler Room Tokyo Live Set
Merzbow with Wolf Eyes live at Kings Raleigh NC 8/6/13
Merzbow & Balazs Pandi – Saint Vitus 2012
Merzbow – Pulse Demon (Full Album)
Merzbow – 1930 [Full Album]
Merzbow – Venereology [Full Album]
Merzbow – Electric Salad [Full Album]
Xiu Xiu + Merzbow – Merzxiu B
Merzbow / Mats Gustafsson / Balázs Pándi / Thurston Moore – Divided By Steel
p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Very happy to read your shining endorsement of ‘Mobile’. I’m with you all the way. So did the rapture arrive yesterday? Hard to tell. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Thank you. I’m really happy you’ll go to the showing. Well, yes, about the release. Our US distributor is very schedule-oriented on their films’ DVD releases, and hellbent enough about keeping to the schedule that, in our case, our theater release really suffered. Still, we’re lucky to have US distribution at all, so … the film will be fine. The Yellow Vest protests: hard to say. They continue regularly, ebbing and then intensifying, back and forth. Sure, eventually they will effect elections, but those are a ways off. It’s quite a different situation here than with Occupy in the sense that the protests are about preserving what already exists against Macron’s so-called reforms rather than trying to change the existing system into something brand new and fairer. They’re about keeping the French system the way it is and was. ** Nick Toti, Hi. Yep, fairly recent. That’s the cool thing about making stuff: you just never know what its life is going to involve and how it will reach people. Things can be given enormous push and promotion and be forgotten in a year or two, and things can sneak quietly into existence and end up being greatly more valued. Cool that you’re almost finished with the Megan Boyle film. Having edited a couple of films, I can’t even imagine. Much less imagine what a hell of an upload that must be. You’re doing a DVD of Bene’s short films? Why did I not know that? How great! Whoa! I’m good, just, you know super busy. Thanks about the gif novel. I’m on it. Take care, man. ** Grant Maierhofer, Hi, Grant. I’m thrilled to have been able to introduce you to the book, and, duh, that it excited you. Awesome, that’s the best. Have a swell day. ** Right. I decided for whatever reason to restore this quite aged but hopefully still cogent post that circles around noise innovator and maestro Merbow. May it make a difference. See you tomorrow.
My DVD of PGL has arrived! Very very beautiful. Everyone who posts in here should own a copy (Go directly to Amazon!) In the interview “special feature” you strike a particularly sober and thoughtful pose, Dennis. ach looks as fetching as ever.
“Noise Music” is something I theoretically recognize but in execution can’t really deal with For me it’s Mahler of Nothing.
Interesting that Merbow should mention Cecil Taylor. Bill had an affair with Cecil many years ago. When we first got together we had him over to the apartment (this was when we lived in new York) for dinner. He was charming and polite to me but the moment I left the room to go to the john he told Bill to drop me and come live with him. (Which of course Bill did not do.)
Cecil was a long-term PWA but none of the obits mentioned he’d succumbed to the effects of the disease or even that he’d contracted it.
Yeah, we’ve kept Bene’s DVD quiet because the process of making them is taking a lot longer than expected. I started talking with her about it over a year ago. I’m working with some folks under the collective name “DieDieMaoMao,” which is functioning as a sort of DIY production company/DVD label. All the DVD packaging is handmade with screen printed artwork and a little zine/booklet thing to accompany the movies. I’m pretty happy with how the first release (for my pal Jacob Graham’s puppet series “Creatures of Yes”) turned out, but I wish that it was possible to have a faster turnaround on them. I guess that hand-making everything basically necessitates it taking a long time, so there’s not much we can do about that.
I’ll definitely let you know when Bene’s DVD is finished. Like I said, it should be later this year, but it’s hard to give an accurate estimate…
Oh man. I love Merzbow so much! I remember seeing this post a few years ago and appreciating it then as I still appreciate it now. Thanks!
Cool post. Love Merzbow.
Well, I can only keep my fingers crossed regarding the current state of my Beloved Maid Of Orléans’s Statue. In any case we still have the one at the Place Des Pyramides by Emmanuel Frèmiet and the one in Orléans by Denis Foyatier; at least…
BTW, months ago saw Bonello’s ‘Nocturama’. Masterpiece.
Love ‘Death Sentence’ too! What do you think of ‘The One Who Was Standing Apart From Me’?
I’ve loved all the DeLillo I’ve read so far, but, curiously enough ‘The Names’ doesn’t really appeal to me that much. My favorite DeLillo is definitely ‘Point Omega’.
“either Richard Chiem’s ‘King off Joy’ or Mark Doten’s ‘Trump Sky Alpha’”
^ Mmm, first time I hear of them. Thanks.
Ugh, I recently read this ‘Zombie’ thing by this Oates person. What a load of shit. It’s pathetic and sad how badly she tries to be/write like Burroughs/McCarthy/Didion/DeLillo/You/Selby, Jr. and it’s all nothing but an *Enormous* waste of time and paper…
Oh, no, not going to Pasadena. Just told you I’m going to CA next month and then asked you if you were born and grew up in Pasadena to be sure. But, no, as Zep would say: ‘Going To California’; but won’t be in Pasadena. It’s all very residential, isn’t it? It’s not much of a place for a tourist, right; or am I wrong? Did George Miles live in Pasadena or Arcadia when you met?
“I’m extremely excited about the new Malick, and I’m hoping that, since it’s premiering at Cannes, it’ll open in France”
^ Hopefully (for you) that’ll be the case. In France His Work is much, much more appreciated than in the USA, anyway. But, well, here in my country neither ‘KOC’, nor ‘STS’ were ever even released at all. Had to wait for the Zone A Blu-Rays to come out to see them… Just sad, sad…
Man, I’m *DYING* to see ‘PGL’!!!… Some months ago I read some reviews and it certainly seems like a Perfect Film I’d Absolutely Love.
I recently reread parts of Derek McCormack’s Great ‘Dark Rides’ and ‘The Haunted Hillbilly’. Love them both. Especially ‘DR’. Guess it helped a little bit with the two small writing projects I’ve just finished. Is ‘The Well-Dressed Wound’ a novel?
“My DVD of PGL has arrived! Very very beautiful. Everyone who posts in here should own a copy (Go directly to Amazon!)”
^ Oh, didn’t know it was out already! Such WONDERFUL and GREAT news!!! I just *NEED* it!!! Too bad I’m so broke right now! FUCK!
Thank you so much for the tip!
“For me it’s Mahler of Nothing.”
^ What about Bach and Wagner? What do you think of them?
Bach means Glenn Gould
Wagner means Patrice Chereau
Adore them both.
Just pre-ordered the ‘PGL’ Blu-Ray!!! YAY!!!
I was listening to a Merzbow podcast the other day – the Merzcast is presented by two guys named Mike and Greh and they were chatting with Philip Best of Consumer Electronics and Amphetamine Sulphate fame about the Spiral Honey album. It’s a deeply worthwhile listen!
This is me back in Leeds as of today to spend a short while with my family. Next week me and my mum are heading up to Glasgow for the PGL screening, but for now I’m eating lots of my dad’s fine cooking and keeping tabs on Leeds United’s stuttering promotion push. Right now it appears Leeds will contest the playoffs in mid May, which is a big letdown given that we were top of the league for most of the season and nailed on for the Premier League. Ah well, in Marcelo Bielsa we have the world’s coolest manager and we’ve got to keep the faith.
When I worked at Kim’s Video, there were wonderful moments when the guys who worked in the music dept. would crank up Merzbow or other Japanese noise artists to drive away people they disliked. (Often, if this worked, they would then switch to something mellower.)
I’m seeing Werner Herzog & Andre Singer’s MEETING GORBACHEV tomorrow at the Tribeca Film Festival. I’m also seeing the Other Music doc and Abel Ferrara’s THE PROJECTIONIST there.