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Venue:
Kung Fu Necktie 1248 N. Front Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
http://kungfunecktie.com/contact.php
Price: $15 General Admission
Thursday, July 9, 2009 - 8:00pm

Merzbow

Masami Akita, electronics

Merzbow stands as the most important artist in noise music today. The moniker of Japanese Masami Akita appears on hundreds of albums. The name comes from German artist Kurt Schwitters' famous work "Merzbau," which he also called "The Cathedral of Erotic Misery." Akita's choice reflects his fondness for junk art (Schwitters' collage method) and his fascination with ritualized eroticism, namely in the form of fetishism and bondage.

Akita was born in Tokyo in 1956. He grew up with psychedelic rock and began to play the guitar in progressive rock cover bands, in particular with drummer Kiyoshi Mizutani, who would remain a frequent collaborator. In 1979, Akita created his own cassette label, Lowest Arts & Music, and released the first of many albums, Metal Acoustic Music. Infiltrating the then-burgeoning network of underground industrial music, Merzbow lined up one cassette after another, packaged in Xeroxed collage art. His harsh noise eschewed the primitive anger found on this scene (Throbbing Gristle, Man is the Bastard) to reach a Zen state, calm inside the storm.

By the late '80s, other record labels had begun to pay interest, namely the Australian Extreme. Collaborative (1988), an LP recorded with Achim Wollscheid, brought the Merzbow sound to more international listeners, and slowly Akita invaded other territories. By the mid-'90s, his reputation verged on the mythical. In 1997, Extreme announced it was putting in production a 50-CD box set, Merzbox. It was finally released three years later. It includes 30 reissues dating as far back as 1979, and 20 discs worth of unreleased material, and remains the biggest musical statement in the history of noise music. More widely available albums for Alien8 Recordings (Aqua Necromancer, 1998) and Tzadik (1930, 1998), combined with constant touring, have taken the artist out of mythical status and propelled him into the legendary.

In the late '90s, Akita started to collaborate with artists outside the Merzbow moniker, namely with Mike Patton (as Maldoror) and Otomo Yoshihide. Both a prolific composer and performer, Akita continued his string of Merzbow releases into the next century, including releases in collaboration with Sonic Youth, SUNN O))), Boris, Carlos Giffoni, Keiji Haino and Jim O'Rourke.

 

Charles Cohen
Charles Cohen, Buchla Music Easel