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MERZBOW  Anicca  CD   (Cold Spring)   11.98
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On April 20th, 2008, Masami Akita went into the Tin Pan Alley Studio in London, a legendary recording studio that has had the likes of Small Faces, The Rolling Stones, and Stevie Wonder pass through its halls, and proceeded to construct an hour long tryptych of extreme, ultra-crunchy free-noise that must have made the attending engineers shit their pants on the spot. This recording came together the day after Merzbow performed a massive show at the University of London Union with death ambient mages Satori and UK power electronics legend Sutcliffe Jugend, and I'm guessing that Masami Akita was still vibrating fully with the visceral energies from the night before, 'cuz this album is one of the hardest Merz discs of his recent output, a high-powered blast of cathartic, psychedelic skree that opens with Masami behind a drumkit. Yeah, he's not so well known for his drumming, but Anicca is one of the handful of Merzbow discs that showcases Masami's love of boisterous, skullcaving drumming, which he delivers with aplomb on the first track, "Anicca Part 1". It's twenty minutes of freestyle drumming bashing and clattering and rolling underneath prerecorded layers of harsh, uber-abrasive electronic noise, loud and energetic and most definitely noisy. The piece sounds like an over-the-top noisecore jam, stretched out to ridiculously epic length, or the sound of a free-jazz drummer going apeshit over a violent, unending storm of harsh, manipulated high-end distortion. The combination of improvised drums and corrosive noise creates some really cool textural activity that seperates this piece from the usual Merz-brutality, but it ain't soothing, either; this jam goes straight into the ear-wrecking realms of corruscating chaos inhabited by the most ferocious free-jazz and psych-noise outfits, bands like Aufgehoben, Heavy Winged, Borbetomagus, Skullflower and Hijokaidan.

There's another instrument that Masami is playing on this album that is pictured in the booklet for Anicca, but it's some nameless monstrosity that he built himself, a metal plate with metal springs and pickups that looks pretty fucking menacing, which he apparently weilds like some kind of stunted guitar, a guitar strap slung over his shoulder while he wrenches all kinds of vicious distortion and frequency fuckery out of it.

The following two tracks were both recorded later in Tokyo after the UK performances. On the second track, the drums disappear and it's straight into more "traditional" Merz territory, a monolithic 22 minute assault of violent, swarming electronic distortion swirling with shards of brutal high-end feedback and cosmic oscillating tones, creating a vast whirlpool of caustic aural grit and buzz. Like with most Merzbow pieces of this nature, the sound becomes mesmerizing after awhile, once you allow the violent fluctuations to flow over you, creating a crushing drone-like effect.

"Anicca Part 3" is less of a total holocaust, but this last track is still harsh stuff; when the piece begins, Masami lays down several layers of throbbing high-end feedback and lower frequency drone, and then kicks in a few minutes in to it with strafing phaser blasts and brainmelting oscillator sweeps that streak over a surface that now becomes a churning, white-hot industrial scrapescape, harsh mechanical loops and clanking machine rhythms taking shape deep below, the track slowly morphing, becoming more and more rhythmic until towards the end when much of the extraneous noise falls away and we're left with a percussive, pulverizing death-industrial grind, super rhythmic and heavy as hell, looped machine noise and monstrous gears grinding over booming, buried percussion. Man, these last few minutes of "Anicca Part Three" are some of the heaviest Merzbow ever.

The rhythmic elements that dominate so much of this album make this something a little different for hardcore Merz fans to lock their jaws around, and if you were into his other more percussive-leaning albums like Merzbeat and Senmaida, you should definitely check this one out. Released by the always-stellar Cold Spring label, with cool photography in the layout by Jenny Akita.


Track Samples:
Sample : MERZBOW-Anicca
Sample : MERZBOW-Anicca