MERZBOW  Aqua Necromancer  CD   (Alien8)   11.98

1998's Aqua Necromancer has always been one of my favorite Merzbow albums. It's always been one of his most accessible albums, and when this first came out on Alien8, I'm pretty sure that this was one of those gateway discs that introduced a new legion of fans to Masami Akita's intense noise explorations. Up to this point, you'd never expect to hear Merzbow incorporate anything remotely "musical" into his blazing harsh noise constructs after such skull-crushing works like Venereology and Tauromachine, but in the late 90's Merzbow began to experiment with more rhythmic elements, documented on his initial releases for Alien8. Aqua Necromancer was touted as being Merzbow's tribute to 70's progressive rock, as unlikely as that sounded at the time, though I remember reading in interviews with Merzbow around that same time, Akita was pretty vocal in his appreciation for classic guitar rock and progressive rock. Certainly an intriguing prospect, but Aqua necromancer is still a far shot from anything that rock fans would probably recognize. These five lengthy tracks take segments of drums and bass guitar (and even some occasional electric guitar) from old albums from bands like Soft Machine and Italian progsters LíOrme and Premiata FOrneria Marconi and weave them into dense, hypnotic clusters of percussive clatter and pummel, and then proceeds to douse these frenetic rhythm pieces in his trademark psychedelic noise. Prog fans that are up to the challenge can try to pick out the individual samples that Merzbow has used here, but it'll be tough going as the drums and basslines are usually devoured in thick swathes of flanged skree and crushing effects. Compared to other rhythm-centric releases that Merzbow did around this period (Merzbeat and the jazz-influenced Doors Open At 8 A.M.), this tends more towards the brutal sonic overdrive of his early 90's material, but those complex drum loops and melodic elements (like when fragments of guitar surface, or a rubbery bassline from L'Orme snakes through the grinding analogue synth chaos) give this a repetitive krautrock quality that sometimes makes me think of what a Circle/Merzbow collaboration might sound like, especially on the burly motorik-driven cosmic blurt of "Contrapuntti Patto" and "Farsa del Buen Vivir". Recommended.

Track Samples:
Sample : MERZBOW-Aqua Necromancer
Sample : MERZBOW-Aqua Necromancer