Merzbow - "Live Destruction at No Fun 2007 (exerpt)" (Live Destruction at No Fun 2007)
I’m not entirely sure where Masami Akita’s kit is at right now: last I’d heard, he was back integrating analogue with digital on his recordings, though when I caught him live in 2005, he was still in his laptop engineer phase. This was about the same time I cast off my suspicions about Merzbow (largely to do with academics and intellectuals using his noise as support for some fairly specious and questionable theories) and started to fully embrace his art. I still think Hijokaidan and Incapacitants best him as far as Japanese noise goes, but on records like Live Destruction at No Fun 2007, he’s on hot form, his noise inescapable and yet rendered with crystalline detail. Besides, the stretches of high-volume phase and wah action that flutter from speaker to speaker through parts of Live Destruction are a whole lot closer to the rock dynamics of Hijokaidan than I’d expect from Akita. Imagine Blue Cheer and Hendrix used as cannon fodder and you’ve some idea of the corporeal impact of these passages.
For all the claims I regularly read about noise’s organics, Merzbow ultimately is all about manmade material, which has me thinking this is another laptop set. On Live Destruction, he tears plastic, strafes gunfire across metal, drags nails, bolts and screws down contact mic’d chalkboards, feeds thick tarpaulin through threshing devices. Though the pace is leisurely, the unrelenting intensity of the noise gives off the effect of restless velocity, and while Akita introduces new material slowly, each new section pushes so much air in your ears, your eardrums buckle. Listening at high volume your blood shoots and spurts like electricity through malfunctioning circuits, your bones crack and jostle, your pulse hammers and stutters, and your extremities blush with pins and needles.
Like Whitehouse, Akita has grasped two important things about digital noise: it only functions properly at full pelt, and the microscopic detail the form gifts the composer leads to magnification, to obsessing over infinitesimal disturbances in files and bringing everything this close to your face.