oM Electrique: Disc One: December 8, 2001


I've just gotten home from school. My quarter hasn't gone as well as I would have liked, but it's gone well enough. I've made the claim that I'm going to listen to the Merzbox all the way through this break, so I better at least get through a few of these discs to make myself look respectable in case Merzbow gets the better of me. I'm going in to this thing like it's a war. It's me and Merzbow, one on one. I've listened to some really bad music, in my time, created unknowingly. Unfortunately, Merzbow does this stuff on purpose, which could be his strength. On Disc One, labeled OM.Electrique, there are four songs. Well, four tracks. OM Electrique Parts One and Two are the first two tracks on the disc, they seem to flow nicely into each other. In fact, I can't really figure out why there is a part one and a part two, since they sound pretty much the same. I'm guessing this is some of his early work because it sounds rather primitive and acoustic. One of the main things that I picked up in Part One was a beat that is brought in, rising and rising in volume until is stamped out of commission and beat until it sort of rides back into the background. There is definitely a fascism of sound going on in here. Nothing that is concrete can stay very long, or is very welcome. I can almost see Merzbow taking a sort of glee in destroying all remnants of song structures and melodies that might be considered pretty to others out of the way. Song 3, though, is the standout here. It's a taped drum solo, with a beat that skitters and then begins again, with a muted snare drum beating in counterpoint to the original.


Metal Acoustic Music: Disc Two: December 9, 2001


Haven't gotten my grades back yet from school. I am kind of worried, but I'm pretty sure what they are, so I think I will be able to bear it. Can't wait to tell my parents the news, they'll be disappointed that I'm not living up to my potential. They never seem to be angry about my grades, but angry that I'm “closing doors to my future.” In either case, I'll wait to have that conversation in a little while. On Disc Two, amusingly titled Metal Acoustic Music, a seemingly direct homage/counter to Lou Reed's opus Metal Machine Music, Merzbow creates a tapestry of sound that is actually very much what I think of as Metal Acoustic Music, or what it should sound like. It's obviously an early recording, probably around 1980 or so. One thing I'm missing is the book that is contained within that details each release and its details and has essays about the man/myth/legend. The song appears to stop around 1040, just stops in its tracks, without any warning. Then it comes back full force a few seconds later. It's almost as if he's giving the listener a break, but I doubt that's where he's coming from, being Merzbow and all. It's an umcompromising split stereo 47 minute listen and there were parts that I liked, but it definitely got muddled a bit in the middle. The last ten minutes were exciting, though. He definitely surprised me, in the beginning with a lot of ryhtmic stuff, I'm interested to see how this will progress as the time goes on. I guess I came in with the preconception that he was going to abandon everything in music. Thus far, however, I hear hints of melody and rythmn in just about everything. This may be his breaking free stage. The early 1900s for Mondrian, where he is paring down things until he finally takes it to its basic elements, color and line. I'm excited to see where he goes from this.


Remblandt Assemblage: Disc Three: December 10, 2001


I guess when you come upon something like the third disc entitled labeled Rembrandt Assemblage I should take a little time to discuss Merzbow and his supposed influences. He certainly lays it all on the table with tracks entitled “Voice of Schwitters” and “Hans Arp.” These two men were Dadaists, attempting to destroy all pictorially based art that had come before it. I see art becoming something of a cottage industry at this time, anybody with a modicum of talent thought that he could do it. Maybe this is the environment that Merzbow thought that he was in: the early eighties when he made this conscious decision to abandon everything and go for the jugular of music as an art form. The disc expresses what Merzbow talks about as his vision for where he wanted to go. Static between vapid Japanese pop radio stations, prepared guitar (looks like Merzbow knows his John Cage), and tape manipulations abound on this release and I must admit it all sounds juvenile. Juvenile, though, in the way that he has a childlike sense of fun in taking apart what has been given to him, in the form of the music that he is forced upon him in daily life. I think all kids, when they make the conscious choice that popular music sucks and they go on a search for something else, something different to satisfy their listening addiction, dream of pop music being torn up from the inside, an almost abandon. V/VM is doing it explicitly, nowadays. But this is the sound of a man without any qualms, reveling in the artistic process, being an artist that most people will hate, and others, a few select others will embrace.


Collection Era Vol 1: Disc Four: December 11, 2001


I'm really wary of sounding like a jackass with this thing. On one level, I hate this thing, I hate all of it. Merzbow is awful, he doesn't do anything that strikes me as entertaining or something that I would listen to ordinarily with friends. But, he's also really important. It's one of those things where I'm glad he's doing it, but I don't think that I want to go through and listen to it. Here I am, though. Listening, documenting, and, in the end, publishing. I'll be contradictory at all times; Merzbow would have it no other way, I think. The fourth disc is the first of three in a series. Collection Era Volume One contains three tracks that vary pretty widely in tone, but, as always, contain that signature Merzbow attitude that I've begun to even feel in these first few discs. There are a few highlights on this disc, though, on the first song I noticed that Merzbow wasn't in the bludgeoning beat mode. He seemed to meander near the end, instead of finishing me off from the noise burst that came in around the nine minute mark. It almost lifts me up to the next track. Merzbow's looking out for me, knows I can't take complete and utter subjugation quite yet, he's working me up to it, though, I can feel it. He wants me to be able to take the pain. But he's willing to work me up to it. I appreciate that. On the second track he lightens the mood even more, with an almost playful clean and clear notes being altered further upwards until it implodes on itself. I'm thinking to myself, ah, yes, the eventual deconstruction, the hallmark of noise. But then it comes back in again and repeats itself until the end of the piece. I was puzzled by this and still don't know exactly what to make of it. Experiments in tone, perhaps, or another prepared instrument, maybe? Willing to defy my narrow expectations, however, which is what is keeping me interested at this point.


Collection Era Vol 2: Disc Five: December 12, 2001


Maybe I am writing too much per disc. I hope that I don't run out of things to say on Disc 17 and then have to close up shop. Maybe we'll go deeper into my personal life at that point, or something else to throw you off guard to keep it interesting. I have all these fears about this entire thing, which I think are definitely fodder to talk about in relation to this disc, which was built and put out on the basis of fear of the MOR or status quo. Merzbow stands in such opposition to everything that has come before him. Sure, he is taking cues from other famous avant garde artists, and it would definitely be a disservice not to mention their influence on his work. But he certainly doesn't garner this much attention if he is simply rehashing older works and ideas by rote. Or does he? Disc Five is Collection Era Volume 2. It's a pretty interesting disc, taking on different styles in his song titles. The first two are entitled Merzrock1 and Merzrock2. I swear it almost sounds as if the second song is outtakes from the first. How utterly pedestrian would it be for Merzbow to have recording sessions where he takes the best noise from each session and pastes it together into a tapestry of noise, much like On the Corner's tape loops and studio use. The best song, though, is Merztronics Jazz Mix. This song contains what sounds like a string bass, an on-the-brink-of-falling-apart-but-still-sputtering synthesizer and guitar feedback. It's the first time in this whole project where I almost said that this is a beautiful song on its own. Maybe it's a cover of something. I mean, could Merzbow possibly concoct something this, dare I say it, beautiful?


Collection Era Vol 3: Disc Six: December 13, 2001


I was planning for a few discs to have rather short entries that resembled something like this: “My god, I will fight on, or I will die trying.” While I don't think that this disc deserves that treatment, exactly, I do think, in comparision to the other two Collection Era Volumes that is most obviously the weakest one. It's one song, which is part of the problem. I know when I come into longer works by Merzbow that boredom will probably set in, at some point, whether I like it or not. He definitely does not mess around when playing with an idea. He will take it to the limit and a bit farther than that. But I think (I hope) that I can owe this to youthful indiscretion. These are the early recordings. He doesn't know how to streamline his sound when it gets bad. I hope I'm not making the same excuse on disc 45, though, because then we'll both know something is up. Interesting points of note, though, this piece's major draw is the prominence of tape loops. I had always read about tape loops and their use, but it seemed that people had disguised them well enough that I had never noticed them before in their compositions. Or maybe I just listen to too much modern music and not enough avant garde classical records. The only other time that it I remember hearing noticeable use of tape was in Steve Reich's composition “It's Gonna Rain.” I listened to it on crappy speakers, once, and never really thought much of it, thinking it was mainly artistic excess of the time, until on a chance I put on my headphones. What a difference. I had already loved Electronic Counterpoint and Music for 18 Musicians. But this piece taught me to never underestimate the difference in sound from speakers and headphones. Well, that piece and Josh Blog. The other interesting point of note, alluded to up above is what the tape loop appears to be saying at some point during the piece. “I like it” or “I like you.” Subliminal messages, Mr. Merzbow? You certainly could have just called me on the telephone instead of making me a mixtape and leaving for college the next day.


Paradoxa Paradoxa: Disc Seven: December 14, 2001


There is a movie on tonight, where the main plot is that the director of the movie makes unreasonable demands on cast and crew and then films the result of his demands. I'm pretty excited to see whether it is a true to life story or if it was scripted that way. I think this Merzbox is beginning to take on the scripted version of what I imagine that movie to be. It's unfolding slowly, piece by piece, in the way a movie works in telling its story in 90 minutes of rising action, climax, and falling action. I'm beginning to believe that there is going to be some sort of climactic disc in this thing that'll be some sort of aural epiphany. These first discs are basically just leading up to this, explaining where Merzbow is coming from, letting you in on all the vital information that you need so that you can take in this epiphany. The last discs after the disc or discs of epiphany will sort of explain what just happened and slowly wind you down after the experience. Make you feel a bit better, a bit more secure after the wild roller coaster ride that you've been on. On this disc, though, it sounds like my kitchen downstairs has been ransacked and is going through an earthquake of about 5.3. Has anyone ever released a record of the sound of an earthquake? Maybe, I'll have to go and do that sometime, either way, it would sound much like this. Near the end of the piece there is a settling down and shifting towards what I thought Merzbow would sound like in the beginning of this project. I'm glad to hear that I wasn't totally off base, at least. My notes for the second song, read as follows: less manic, letting the melody (however fractured) have its day. It's definitely a shorter companion piece to the longer first piece; it complements it nicely, I guess.


Material Action for 2 Microphones: Disc Eight: December 15, 2001


For some reason I think that I have to qualify everything. When I say a track is good, I really want to add on the end of that sentence the following line: it's good, yeah, for a noise piece. Is this even the way to go about reviewing this stuff? Am I shortchanging the obvious artistic changes that Merzbow is using and inflicting on the established norms of the music industry and landscape by reviewing this in such a mundane manner? I once thought of reviewing each disc one by one for the site. I knew, though, that I'd be struggling for material. At least, here, I can write shorter pieces and more personal things and pass it off as a listening diary. In either case, disc 8 is entitled �Material Action For Two Microphones.' The first song had some really interesting textures in it. For instance, you know when you tear open something and it's really hard to tear it at first but as you get more leverage and as it opens up more it becomes much easier? He makes that sound on the first track. I can't really explain it any better than that, but it's amazing. Also, on the first track: there is a very beautiful part near the end, bubbling up from the bottom of the mix, it almost breaks free of the cacophony above but the sound of, what only can be described as, machine gun fire goes off in the song and silences the part. It tries again and again for the last minute or two of the song, but to no avail. This seems to be a radio disc, in that Merzbow uses the radio and distorted effects on top of it to construct the tracks. The third track, though, lives up to the title of the disc. Merzbow blows into the mix, bringing a rather human element to the forefront, reminding me that he and I are at war. He controls the machines and he will control me until I decide to turn him off. Not yet. You can't kill me yet.


Yantra Material Action: Disc Nine: December 16, 2001


Yeah, this disc really sucked. I'll save a discussion of missteps and the boring quality of this music for another time, just so I can set the precedent of not writing about one disc in ten, just because I need to.


Solonoise: Disc Ten: December 17, 2001


It's two discs in a row, after my statement of resolve that he's beginning to wear on me a little bit. I think I'm going to take a few days break after this and write up the more formal piece and clean these meandering thoughts up a little bit, make them more coherent. I think I can take him in five parts. In fact, I'm already 20% done with him. He's not so tough and I'm finding that reading everything on him and related noise artists is pretty interesting. A bit of a mind bender, though, when I went to Best Buy, though. I was looking for artists like ESG and Merzbow on the shelves to see if I could get something for Christmas, since my Mom had given me a good amount of money to get lunch with. I figured I could go without lunch and then score some CDs I'd been interesting in buying. Maybe four years ago this would've worked, maybe they would've had that Limp Bizkit import that I was happy to see because I'd never heard of it. But today, it's a rude awakening to find that you've gone too far into the type of music that isn't sold by chains anymore. Hell, I couldn't even find a good Kinks record. I'll be back to fight the good fight, though, don't you worry, dear readers. This disc is entitled Solo Noise and contains three tracks with part one, two, and three. Song 3 is the most interesting and contains the most notes. The first two songs contain a continuation of this sort of rattling percussion overtone that permeated the last disc. It's almost as though he used the same noise tracks on top and then did solos over them and then passed them off as new songs. It's respectable stuff, though, and when song 3 came along I was pleasantly surprised when it was much cleaner and had very sparse drawn out elements to it. I think maybe he pushed the same distortion track that was featured in the other songs and mixed it lower, which was a nice turn of events. At the eleven minute mark, though, the song takes a definite turn towards a sort of weird microphone experiment and I swear to you, that Chewbacca or another Wookie makes a guest appearance on this song. Who knew that Wookies were from Japan?


Expanded Music: Disc Eleven: December 28, 2001


Back again. A glutton for punishment, it would seem. It seems as though Mr. Merzbow is once again coming at us from his early days, early 1980s perhaps. This release is called Expanded Music, which doesn't do much to explain the songs in their entirety because the music seems to be more claustrophobic than anything else. I just can't really see anyone listening to this sort of music in the light of day with a smile on their face. I see dark figures, people in dark alleys playing this softly out of boomboxes or pale white kids in their suburban bedrooms with oversized headphones (me). I tend to think of his music as a secret, part of the dark underworld of music. I feel weird reading his name in magazines or even seeing his face on webpages. There is this one picture of Merzbow which was taken, presumably, on his first American tour in 1990 that is on the internet. It's him outside in front of the Texas Statehouse. And it's odd, because I can't picture him leading this normal life, this normal person. How can he come out during the day and get his picture taken in front of something so…banal, so pedestrian? I guess I'm being unfair in my projections but I can only truly picture Merzbow alone, in a bedroom, building machines to do his bidding, building things only to destroy them. But I guess I'd pass him in the grocery store at some point if I lived near him. Odd that some people think these strange fantasies of Paul McCartney or Fred Durst living this rock star lives and I spend my time thinking about how Merzbow lives his art all the time, no regrets, no holds barred.


Nil Vagina Tape Loops: Disc Twelve: December 28, 2001


Quite possibly my favorite album title ever because it both describes the music and is pornographic: Nil Vagina Tape Loops. I'm guessing there is going to be better examples of Merzbow's pornographic fixation and I'll expand on the philosophical impact of that later, when I get the urge. In the notes for this particular release, though, I have the comparision of the second song to Cylob's Industrial Folk Songs. As this is a collection of tape loops, I guess the comparision would be accurate, however it seems odd that everything is so methodical and drawn out for Merzbow. For a person so intenet on the destruction of pop music it certainly seems like he is buying into the fact of repetition as one of the key figures in the construction of a successful song. Of course, he takes this idea to the extreme, as he does with most things, but the repetition remains. What is he trying to achieve with this repetition, becomes the obvious question and I have nary an answer at hand. But it would serve the reader to be let in on the fact that in the third song the loop that has been going on in the song for approximately twenty minutes is lost at this point, but quickly regained to its normal status. This says to me that Merzbow knows what he is doing here, that this isn't a lazy construction. In fact, I would dare say that these songs are composed, rather than put together at random. So what am I missing here, what fundamental theorem lies beneath?


Material Action 2 (N A M ): Disc Thirteen: December 29, 2001


This disc is actually mentioned by Jim O'Rourke in his new interview in The Wire magazine as one of the tapes that he never heard in his initial fascination with noise music. As he wrote an essay for the book contained in the Merzbox, I'm sure he has heard it since then, but I find it interesting that people were onto this noise stuff as it was happening, in the beginning. I guess it can be seen as a break from the almost academic avant garde that had presented itself as the norm for so many years. Stockhausen, Xenakis, etc. all seem to be these amazing people with this amazing ideas, but they don't seem to be more than that – ideas. The practice of the actual idea tends to be dull and overwrought with a few vital exceptions, of course. As much as I think the music is claustrophobic and unsettlingly cold and dark, it could also be taken as the exact opposite to some ears with a different perspective on things. To ears that have been attuned to the avant garde stylings of the aforementioned composers I can only guess that Merzbow and other Japanese artists coming out in tape-trading community of the time felt a sense of freedom coming out of their speakers when they put it on for the first time. And the first song on this might have been exactly what O'Rourke was looking for, it starts innocuously enough, but a few seconds in it erupts into a frenzy of broken guitars, wheezing instruments, and schreeching. There is a fantastic short bell part around the 18 minute mark that I almost missed out on, but I concentrated and ran it back to confirm what I heard. This song, coupled with the distorted and yearning synth lines on the second song make this one of the must-have Merzbox discs in my opinion. Or it might just have been my frame of mind when I first heard it.


Mechanization Takes Command: Disc Fourteen: December 29, 2001


Besides the obvious firsts of the box set, like first time I said to myself, “Oh god” and “I can't do this anymore,” I'm going to make a guess that this second series of ten is going have an amount of firsts that are much more interesting. On this particular disc I began to feel, for the first time, that I was getting used to Merzbow, that it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Of course people listened to this in their spare time, I mean who doesn't? I thought. But I quickly caught myself. Understanding that maybe I'm too insular, that I'm certainly not a normal member of society if I can actually believe this sort of thing, if only for a few moments. It was an odd feeling and it kind of scared me. This winter break has been really weird for me. I don't have a job to go to every day like last time and I'm beginning to feel like I'm accomplishing a whole lot of nothing and that my life is in shambles to a certain extent. I'm beginning to realize that I didn't learn all of the things that I should have learned in my youth about money and its importance and about goal-setting and becoming a good old fashioned drone/productive member of this world. I don't have the social skills or the bullshit skills to do the sorts of things that people all around seem to be doing with a great deal of proficiency. Maybe I have a low self-image but it seems that everyone around me is accomplishing all these great things that go on resumes and applications that people look at awe in and want to hire them for their jobs and all I have is something like a short stint at a bookstore to put on my resume. These are the thoughts that go through my mind as I listen to this disc. It makes me afraid for myself and my future, whatever that is.


Dying Mapa Tapes 1-2: Disc Fifteen: December 30, 2001


A new day, a new double dipping of Merzbow for me. The most interesting thing I could glean out of these set is the obvious musicality of Merzbow's early experiments. Sure, they're a bear to listen to, and I'm hating most of every minute of it, but at times it seems that there is enough melody and enough rhythm to satiate any person with a taste for avant garde music. This isn't too weird or anything, nothing to painful. I think my problem is the sheer scope and the idea of trudging through the entire thing of it. Even while I'm listening to it, I realize that there about 30 more discs to go after this one. On this disc, though, Merzbow seems to employ beats that current IDM producers would have used or sampled in their works. The beats don't vary all that much, which gives them a mind numbing effect but at a certain point the mind-numbing effect of the beat gives way to a transcendent feeling. For a few seconds I felt elation and a oneness with the beat that was being played, almost getting a glimpse of what I believe that tribesman from Africa or suburban ravers on E feel at certain points when they're dancing. In case anyone wants to remix this record, though, the first song ends with this fantastic new element being brought in as the rest is being faded out. I wonder if someone could salvage that snippet. It just proves to me that Merzbow does these sorts of things on purpose, though: he doesn't care about the listener, he cares about himself. I would go so far to say, though, in this case of bringing that element in at the last moment and taking it away that he did it self-consciously, knowing full well that the listener wanted more and taking it away to show that he doesn't give a damn. I see right through you. Right through you, man.


Dying Mapa Tapes 2-3: Disc Sixteen: December 30, 2001


I'd have to rank this disc as one of the tops listened to so far. Merzbow employs a lot of radio station samples, the station being turned with static in between, etc. The first song uses the Drifter's song “On Broadway,” but I'm guessing it was the kitschy 1980s version judging by the funky bassline. There is a lot of guitar playing that I can distinguish going on top of everything and later on he adds some piano notes to the mix which adds to the very interesting layering of the piece, as a whole. The ending sounds like one of the songs off of Iran's new self titled disc, but I can't remember which (that CD is pretty overrated in any case). Song 2 is pretty unremarkable, which takes away from the disc, but the third song makes up for it. It starts off with a Japanese-sounding instrument along with the ubiquitous cacophony that goes along with almost every song. Then it stops and people begin to clap in response to the music. It's a cheap tactic, I'll admit, but right now I'm really enjoying listening to it for the second time. Overall this disc could be characterized as Merzbow discovering the joys of working with his portable radio player and bringing that to the mix. Overall, though, it's a welcome change from the earlier discs. Which brings me to an idea that I've been wanting to explore: what is Merzbow's mature style? I think by the time I'm done with this set I'll be able to tell you, but so far it is quite different from what I believed coming into the project. It seems as though it is a bit lighter and less uncompromising than I imagined it. You might ask why would he be working towards a mature style, why wouldn't he chose to progress from release to release. To that I would probably suggest that Merzbow has less in common with that of a traditional musician than with a pictorial artist who will go through many stages before he finds the apex of his theory and will continue to try to perfect that style, creating a number of similar works. Merzbow certainly makes a case on this disc to the maturation of the tape loop “style” but I guess I was thinking that there was much more to him than that.


Agni Hotra: Disc Seventeen: January 1, 2001


The opening loop that begins this album is probably a dream for any sort of reviewer who would come upon Merzbow's work. It's the sound of glass breaking or at least the electronic equivalant. I wonder what normal reviewers would do in a 200 word format for one Merzbow record. It seems to me that I could take that approach for each individual record that I'm hearing but I think the repetition factor would get to me after about five discs. I only have a certain amount of adjectives in my book to describe what I'm hearing and once I'm out, I'm out. It would serve the reader to know that this was the first disc that I had serious thoughts of quitting this project, leaving it in its current state, a testament to Merzbow's power over the listener. But I guess I'm going to preservere. Also, in song six the beginning loop sounds suspiciously like a printer from 1990 or so. In either case, I can't say that Man or Astroman's song using the same instrument is all that inventive anymore, although they did in a much more pop format with melody and rhythm. After this disc I chose to listen to a few tracks from the Richard Devine album that I was downloading. No difference, for the most part. Except it was cleaner sounding.


Pornoise 1kg Vol 1: Disc Eighteen: January 1, 2001


Once again I think Merzbow is consciously working towards something here. It's obvious that what he is doing is creating a sound collage not that far off from what the Avalanches are doing right now. Sure, the Avalanches have created something entirely in the pop market, but he has made/found these samples on this record and arranged them in such a way that he becomes more a composer than a musician. It seems like he has been doing this for a while, doing these loops, but they weren't so self consciously obviously looped until this set of 10. The earlier records were more acoustic and live sounding, in my opinion. I think Merzbow has become more automated in these releases. Maybe the question of innovation comes in when exactly he is doing this. The early to mid 80's. People were already starting to do this, I would suppose, but it certainly wasn't a new idea. The elements he chooses, however, are more dark and fragmented than anything that had come before. Like a animalistic and bestial Kraftwerk, maybe. But one of the questions I think I almost am obligated to answer in listening to this box set is the question of the height of Merzbow's artistry. Is it high enough to warrant this thing, this monstrosity? If I find that eventually he comes to be something that no one else could have done, no one else dared to do the things he was doing than yes, by all means, he deserves this box set, he nearly demands it. I'm on the fence, right now, I guess. But I'm leaning towards yes. You have to give these kids the benefit of the doubt.


Pornoise 1kg Vol 2: Disc Nineteen: January 2, 2001


I have nothing to say about this. Except maybe that it sucked.


Pornoise 1kg Vol 3: Disc Twenty: January 2, 2001


Here I am. After this one I get a break. I'm nearly tempted to say that it sucked, too, and take my break of this set, listen to some real music for a while, but I'm better than that, a bit stronger, I guess. It has come time to talk a bit about porn. Merzbow, when he was first doing his tapes and trading them with others, would package his work with covers of pornography and bondage scenes. There are some loops in this record that are obviously of some sort of pornographic activity but it wasn't the first time that I heard things approaching that. This is one of the themes that seems to pop up in his work time after time, the idea of sex in one form or another. It has been said that maybe if music was sex that Merzbow would be pornography; but I'm not sure if I believe that contention. I would guess that, in most cases, pornography is the ideal, the fantasy of the greatest things that you can't attain. It is there only to tantalize you, to make you maybe attempt to make your situation a bit better. Sex is beautiful, though, and pornography is dirty… or so they say. In that context, maybe Merzbow is pornography. But maybe he is better thought of as the sort of pornography you bought as a kid, the first magazine that you bought or stole in a rush from the store. You get home and look at it and maybe realize that you stole the wrong one and got the weird magazine with the uglier girls. That's the way I'm looking at Merzbow right now. I stole this thing thinking it was going to be something amazing, mind blowing, something that was going to teach me the ways of the world. And now I'm just left with this ugly woman trying to gain my attention by taking her clothes off and I'm just flipping through the magazine hoping she might just might put them back on.


Pornoise Extra: Disc Twenty One: January 7th, 2002


I figure my listening will get more erratic once I get to school and have distractions in the room with me occasionally, so I'll try to keep strictly to the record on this one. On the first song I was surprised at how much it sounded like vintage Merzbow. You know…that Merzbow, the one you think of when you jokingly recommend his releases to your friends, the one full of static, the aggressive punishing Merzbow. As song two came on I was surprised and somewhat delighted that it picked up where the previous song had left off. Has Merzbow finally turned the corner from odd ambient sound pieces to the punishing noise baron that I knew him as before I came into this project? The short answer is no. Throughout the rest of the disc there are hints of his legendary sonic violence: he is coming at you from a different perspective than most of the other previous discs. However, his earlier work also comes to shine through at points as well. There are some nice bells samples and some tribal rythmns floating around in the mix. By the time the last track comes in, though, it sounds like he is making porn music (although some of his other work has been titled as such, the designation was a bit of a misnomer). It seems so odd that he would come across as so straightforward to American ears at this point. Before it was quite a stretch to accept certain discs as �Music For Bondage Performance' and �Nil Vagina Tape Loops' as sexual. But this piece comes with a funky beat that was just made for getting it on. As a side note, I do not recommend getting our groove on to any disc out of this set if you want to keep your partner very long. But it's great for breaking up.


Sadomasochismo The Lampinak: Disc Twenty Two: January 8th, 2002


Except for a few lapses, each of the previous twenty two discs have been listened to through headphones. I figure that an artist like Merzbow would be nice enough to offer up different things in each ear and I haven't been disappointed thus far. The complete lack of concern with disparate sounds that go on in each ear and panning effects have been used on most of the previous works. What caught my attention more than anything on this disc was the movement away from tape loops, or, at the very least, noticeably looped samples. It seems that he is going back to his original form of making music on this disc: free and without electronic aid. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I threw off the headphones for this particular battle. It offered me the freedom to walk around my small room and eventually sit down and finally read the two Wire pieces that have been published about Merzbow. The first was a cover story. As I began to read it I began to cringe a little bit. The articles contradicted or fleshed out the information I have been using in this journal. It was significant information, really, and there were small issues of interpretation that began to alter my views about the music and the context in which it was created. I actually talked to a number of people before reading the article about whether I should “infect” my thinking with these different opinions, the “gospel” about Merzbow. Certain things from the articles will surely pop up in my writing in the future, so be aware that, yes, I've read it. The second article was a review of the Merzbox. I began to laugh knowingly. Misery loves company.


Mortegage Batztoutai Extra: Disc Twenty Three: January 13th, 2002


A short break for the beginning of classes and the nervousness that goes along with it. The beginning of the quarter is when you'll find me in the library the most, attempting to display a good example of work ethic. Who knows how long it will last? On this disc there are some interesting effects being played upon the sounds contained within. Merzbow seems to be going farther along the lines of transforming his sound into something even more complex, yet inviting at the same time. Before the sound was complex, yet messy and dirty. There was too much going on, too many senses being assaulted at once. He wanted me to give in early on, but once you get past the beginning and get to this series, he lessens up a bit. It shows a bit of maturity(?). However, I wouldn't go so far to say that this disc is necessarily classic in the set, or even very good. It's competent and solid, a sort of placeholder for something bigger and better that I hope will come later on. But I think that what I'm hearing is the first indications of everything being destroyed: that he is starting from square one with his sound. No remnants remain in this world that he has created and the only glimpses we get of other types of music that were once present are fleeting and in caricature. I'm rambling a bit here about this because I'm not sure what this disc is all about; it seems like it's a manifesto for another stage in his career. I want to say something big is coming, but I'm not sure.


Enclosure Libido Economy: Disc Twenty Four: January 14th, 2002


So this disc starts out like a blast of hot air in the face. I haven't really talked about many of his discs as “rocking.” But in my notes for each release that's the only adjective that I could come up with to describe how nice this track sounded. It was very laid back, atmospheric stuff with the sounds of decaying machinery being one of the most prevalent characteristics in the mix. It was certainly a continuation of the style of the previous few discs but this sounded oddly better, more prescient in echoing what industrial artists would like to be able to do in the “emotional” (read: boring) portion of their record that usually happens for a few minutes after the last song, waiting for the obligatory hidden track to come on. Since there is an average of four songs per record, this had my hopes high for the rest of the record, but those hopes were definitely misplaced, which brings me to a certain pet peeve with Merzbow. His records are so uneven with me. At times I think it's absolute brilliance, sometimes it's more annoying than anything, sometimes it's average, and a lot of the time it's just there. Once he's stated the main theme there is little to no development. As I write this argument down, though, I'm beginning to see large holes in thought, though. If Merzbow is truly creating a new language of music should there be development? Should it be “good”? Should there be quality control? In short, if you take the bait and say that he is forging a new path for music than all of the answers to those questions inevitably lead to no. I won't even go into why this diary then becomes a useless exercise.


Vratya Southwards: Disc Twenty Five: January 15th, 2002


Halfway. I was truly hoping that this disc would be good. I was truly hoping that I wasn't going to maybe have to rely on a simple numerical signifier to take the place of writing about this record. So, I won't. I'll tell you all about how bad this record is. The first song, of two, begins with the usual cacophony and the sounds of birds circling in my headphones, going around and around with a cold industrial beat clanging out a rhythm in the background. There is squeaking and groaning all around relying once again on the atmospheric and noise collage technique that has been employed by more than a fair share of industrial artists later. I'll admit here when I say industrial I mean Nine Inch Nails and the Downward Spiral album. Sometimes I imagine an instrumental version of Reznor's band. That may not be industrial to all of you purists, but that's the way I'm using it, so it's industrial to me. Anyway, it sounds as though it is in a constant stasis of rising action, but a rising action that lasts for about 20 minutes. A sort of holding pattern until a climax that never comes. This relates pretty well to the Wire article in that they describe Merzbow's sound as almost trance inducing. If you give in to the sounds that he makes you could have a Zen-like experience in which nothing matters, only the interior of the sound. Although I wouldn't necessarily term this release as the perfect soundtrack for this I can definitely see where they are coming from in making this assumption about many of his CD's and his work as a whole.


Live in Khabarovsk CCCP: Disc Twenty Six: January 16th, 2002


This disc is definitely odd in the grand scheme of the box. There seems to be a prepared piano at odds with a rock beat that is resolute in keeping a certain rhythm that the piano ignores. It is the first time that I heard the prog influence on Merzbow come out in full force, as though it had been hidden away underground awash static and clattering, waiting to be unearthed among all the rubble that lay across Merzbow's musical landscape. It's not a coincidence, then, that this is the first recording that labels itself as a live piece. And what of live “noise” performance? Is it going to garner the same sort of communal experience that a good rock show is meant to? I doubt it. Of course, I have never been to a Merzbow show. At first I think the noise would be unbearable, almost deafening, but then I guess I would become acclimated to it. I think the worst part would be when it stopped. After such continued exposure to these frequencies you would begin to expect them or permutations of them and when they would vanish completely it would probably be a strange blow to the nervous system. Merzbow seems to be music for art galleries more than anything else, though. I would guess that he is not into rock-star worship and all the vanities that go with it.


Storage: Disc Twenty Seven: January 20th, 2002


I'll take my pass here, thanks.


Fission Dialogue: Disc Twenty Eight: January 22nd, 2002


I bought This Heat - Made Available today and I'm pretty much shocked at the similarities between that disc and this particular CD for Merzbow. Sure, there is a greater focus on melodic forms in This Heat, and they allow the listener a tiny bit of leeway in diving into the music, but there certainly is an unrelenting fuzz and harshness in both of their sounds. When I say harshness I think I mean that the sound is distorted for no apparent reason. It feels as though the keyboard sound is about to envelope everything around it and this clarinet comes out of it striking note after note, struggling to play what it needs to play. I think this give-and-take between each instrument on This Heat is what made them sound so vital, as though everyone was attempting to be heard without regard for the other. In this CD of the Merzbox it seems like there is no peaceful coexistence of any sound that resides on the track, as though each song is a battle to be won for one particular instrument, ensuring mutually-assured destruction. One thing is clear: no one is going to come out unscacthed, least of all the listener. And that's how I've occasionally described the Box: A war, each disc a battle to get through. Sure, that's the exact wrong frame of mind to go into it, but every so often I fall into the easy way of thinking about this, the uneducated way of expressing how much I dread doing this for one hour a night and how I may never get through this thing or, even worse, when I get done I'll look back and merely think: what a waste. As I look back on the disc and check out the song names, which I rarely do before I listen to it (lest it color my listening), I see that it's called Fission Dialogue. Merzbow seems to have a knack for creating the exact right words for these works, expressing the inexpressible time after time.


Merzbow+SBOTHI Collaborative: Disc Twenty Nine: January 22nd, 2002


I think I'm going to finish out this group of ten today, since it seems like today might be a day without a lot of schoolwork. I listened to this particular CD while reading Russia by El Lissitzky. He believes that through architecture, a Utopia can be more than dreamed: it can be built. It was nice reading for the disc, as it sounded like small amounts of destruction went on throughout the CD. Pieces of metal being dragged to and fro across a floor, preparing for something great and monumental to be built, perhaps. What is Merzbow building in here? It seems obvious to talk a little bit about the obsessive quality of his work. It's all-consuming: his goal seems to be to realease 500 pieces of work before he dies. It seems impossible but I would guess that he is 40% there or so, if not more. I liken him to a painter, I guess, because it's the easiest analogy of all. No one is meant to look at every Degas. A lot of them are the same scene with a different set of characters or from a different view. Maybe it's easier to have people look through the whole thing to look for the themes and bring out the samples that will prove it. I'm wary of making myself seem more important than I am, though. Anyway, when he is done the body of work will be enormous and probably take weeks to wade through and that's the whole point: to create something so monolithic and monumental that it is nearly impossible to be in awe while thinking about it. Do people laugh at the thought of the Merzbox because it's 50 CDs of noise music or at the nervousness that they feel when they think that someone could create 50 CDs of music and have it willingly consumed by fans? Maybe you shouldn't answer that, dear reader.


Crocidura Sdi Nezumi: Disc Thirty: January 22nd, 2002


So here we are at disc thirty and I'll readily admit for the first half of this I was distracted by my roommate's music, although I had headphones on. I can't imagine how fast it would become more than annoying if I did this project any other way. I began to think in larger terms during the part of this disc. It would seem that by disc fifty I would have to have some sort of broad conclusions to draw from the whole experience and be able to give a synopsis of styles or stages that Merzbow went through besides “It sucked” and “It was noise.” Trust me, though, that's what I'll start out with if any asks me in person, because it's damn embarrassing to get all excited and talkative about a noise artist when you know the other person doesn't give a damn. Er, anyway, when I said that something big might be coming in disc twenty three I guess I was wrong. What I couldn't articulate there was that it seemed like the beginning of a style akin to a painters work. Think of Rothko or Pollock and all the paintings that they created using the same sort of colors and forms. This is what was starting there, this is what has become of disc twenty three. In disc fifty we don't have the perfection of the form or anything resembling close to that, but we do have another similar take on the same sounds and the permutations that can be made from that set. It was a format for expression that would be carried out time and time again, striving for a perfection of the form, striving for his master work, striving for his “Autumn Rhythm.”


Merzbow+Achim Wollscheid: Disc 31: January 28, 2002


In listening to these next ten discs, I was going to listen to just the Merzbow disc and then not listen to anything else for the rest of the day. This mission failed soon after this idea was hatched, as I realized that I reviewed records for the radio station that I work for, and that I sort of had to listen to them to review them. It would have been the most ideal situation for pure Merzbow madness, I guess. But at this point in the Box, I admit that I'm sort of coasting through the discs, anyway. I hope that the last ten discs will change this a bit, or that there will start to be some differences within the grand scheme of the whole thing. Sure, Richards, the owner of Extreme Records states that there are tons of differences of releases. Looks like he must be doing much more careful listening than I am, at this point. In any case, this disc featured what sounded like smoke stacks going off every so often. Tones overlapped, phase shifting for a long time. I don't know how much Merzbow has listened to Steve Reich or any of the other composers that used the phase shift in their compositions, but I would have to guess that he had some inkling as to what was going on with Reich if he talks about Stockhausen or Xenakis as influences. It's an interesting disc, I suppose. Rather laid back, he lets the sounds do their own work. I would guess that this is due to the collaboration with Achim Wollscheid. Man, I really need to get this book so that I can stop sounding like a fool.


Scum Volume 1: Disc 32: January 29, 2002


Scum! Looking at this and the next few discs, I know I'm in for full-fledged noise. On song 1, we have the sounds of grains of sand for around seven minutes. Did the idea of microsound/granular synthesis originate with Merzbow? I wouldn't put it past him. The multiple songs on this disc astound me. Is there really any point to delineating each grouping of ten minutes into a song format? I would expect more from Merzbow, attempting to break out of constraints set by him in the regular music world. I would expect wither one minute pieces that are cut up sixty times, 3 minute snippets (a silly attempt to get onto pop radio), or one song with no cuts for any reason. He seems to ignore every other convention that music has put on him, so it comes as no surprise that he might come up with a variance in each disc, which he does. The songs are 22 or 23 minutes, for the most part, so it comes as a surprise when Merzbow switches it up. On song two, there is a demented calliope/orchestra that would belong in some sort of evil clown movie. Wouldn't Merzbow be a fantastic scorer for horror movies? Imagine Neve Campbell in Scream 4 running away from scary guy in black to a symphony of noise. They'd probably just sample him and not pay him. How hard could it be to create this sort of stuff, anyway? The reason that he gets so many accolades is the fact that he was first, as follows the argument of most modern artists.


Scum Volume 2: Disc 33: January 30, 2002


As projected earlier, this group of Scum CDs was going to feature some of the worst music ever imaginable. And in fact, this CD is probably the greatest representation of that. My notes consist of this: “Awful. Merzbow! Destruction abounds, a distorted piano in front, the world is being blown up from the inside in the background. This CD is awful, awful, awful, awful.” But is there as much merit to this awfulness as there is to something interesting, like Disc 31? I would say so. Some people can revel in this awfulness. I can't, but it does give me a headache in a good way, if there is such a thing. Any music that gives me a headache and doesn't do it by accident is at least accomplishing some sort of purpose beyond the passive listening of the music. And that's what it all comes down to, passive listening versus active listening. If there was ever anything that Merzbow hoped for from this Merzbox project, it was a response. Any sort of emotion. He doesn't want, “Eh, it was OK.” He wants violent reaction with love or hate. As the smartass kid in school always pointed out, the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. And more than anything Merzbow doesn't want to lead you into indifference. But at 50 discs of this stuff, what else is there to do, at some point? I can only grouse about these records so long before not caring.


Scum Severances: Disc 34: January 31, 2002


This CD restored my faith in this whole project. My notes for each string of ten discs has gotten shorter and shorter over the four that I've written thus far, so my notes were rather cursory for this disc up until the second song where I stopped. I took a minute to look around the room that I was in, I took the Winamp cursor back to the point that it had been approximately two minutes before and made sure I wasn't hallucinating the sounds that had just come out of my headphones. I hadn't. I hope I have piqued your interest, at the very least. During the second song at around seven minutes in Merzbow takes a U-turn into melodic IDM territory with, what sounds like, something that could have been ripped right out of an ISAN record. But I have to believe it's a sample from something. It must be a sample from a video game soundtrack or some other equally silly thing. In either case, this restores Merzbow's sense of humor for me, if nothing else. And if you don't believe me about this whole thing, take a listen.


Scum Steel Cum: Disc 35: February 1. 2002


I'm having a lot of trouble writing this stuff up now. What else is there to say about the man? I'm very interested in starting out questions that could be examined in depth and then only hinting at their possible answers or merely just asking the questions and leaving it at that. It's a horrible habit and I don't think I'll ever be a successful rock journalist because of this. I've always been criticized for not bringing in enough supporting evidence or not going far enough in depth into the things that I examine. I think that with the sheer breadth of the project, however, you could scoop up certain threads and sentences here and there and figure out things to talk about for months about noise music and music, in general, if you wanted to. Everything that I've ever done I've always half-assed it, though. I feign absolute devotion, for the sake of appearances, but I've never felt that I've been the best at anything in my life. Before this turns into an emo sob fest, I'll cut the self loathing to one more line: Even this project has been undertaken and has been done better in The Wire and Chunklet, but you get to read this for free, which is why you like me. Right? In any case, this seems like outtakes disc from the Scum Sessions. There are random threads, little ideas here and there that are explored for a few moments before being discarded. Merzbow seems to have relegated this disc to experimentation before the sessions where he produced Sum Volume I and Volume II. However, it would seem that this came, chronologically, after those discs. Wonders never cease and it would only make sense that his rehearsals would come after the finished product was already done. Odd, how I began to write this and it fell right in line with which disc I was on. It doesn't turn into an emo song at the end of the disc, though. Sorry about that.


Cloud Cock OO Grand: Disc 36: February 3, 2002


I'll happily take my pass here, although it is bad form to do it on the first entry on a new page.


Newark Hellfire- Live on WFMU 1990: Disc 37: February 4, 2002


Live Merzbow. I've already talked about this before, I guess. But I think it bears to be talked about a bit more. As Nicole Stivers wrote about in an article recently on the site there is a certain amount of ritual in the rock concert. Merzbow certainly created loud obnoxious music that your parents would probably regard as non-music, but he doesn't get assigned traditional rock star status. His concerts, however, would fit very well, perhaps almost better, into the ritualizing aspect of concerts. Only a select group of people know about Merzbow and an even smaller group of people actually enjoy his music. When he goes on tour it's an event, since he doesn't visit the United States very often. The types of people, that I imagine, that go to Merzbow concerts perhaps prepare for the experience. They all bring earplugs, they all bring their love of �outsider music,' and they all take a small secret delight in this little private concert that they can share with a small number of others. Nicole writes that, “the closest I have ever felt to a genuine (organic) trance state has been at various concerts. My vision starts blurring around the edges, all I can see are the musicians at the center of my line of sight. I feel like I'm falling out of my head, being sucked towards the stage in a vacuum created by the music and the people playing it.” If this is what you imagine what a Merzbow concert is like, minus the hero worship, then you haven't listened to the Merzbox. Oh, wait. Never mind.


Hannover Cloud: Disc 38: February 5, 2002


This group of ten discs has taken on a different side of Merzbow that I haven't heard much of before. In the beginning of the set there was a lot of seriousness, ultra academic posturing, and a sense of almost propulsive movement towards some sort of aesthetic. It was electric, perhaps. I think that Merzbow was excited, at some point, in the knowledge of what he was creating. “This is something I've never heard before,” he must of thought, taking a bit of glee in the whole process as he made the tapes, sent them out, and awaited responses. But over the past few discs, I hear a sense of humor peeking through the maelstrom of sound. On this particular disc there are short snippets of popular music that seeps through, only to be taken over very quickly by the ever present noise/static that characterizes most of Merzbow's compositions. But you get the sense that this isn't the same use of Japanese pop that was sometimes heard in the earliest releases. This is more of a humorous giving of the noise, a sort of let up in response to what he does most of the time, which is bludgeon the listener. Before the music was used as an instrument to say that he hated and despised it. Now, the music has taken on the element of Merzbow saying “Yep, sorry about that past fifteen minutes or so, let me give you a little taste of something that is traditionally listenable.” I guess it's not much of a distinction at all, when it comes down to it, but I think I feel like Merzbow is lightening up a bit. Or maybe it's just my mood at the moment.


Stacy Q HI FI Sweet Leaf: Disc 39: February 6, 2002


I think this disc sort of goes a bit to prove my theory proposed yesterday. On this one we have more pop hits, including The Rolling Stones �Mother's Little Helper' in the mix getting cut up. As I don't know the release dates of many of these discs, I'll take a guess and say that this was done before 1995. If that is the case, we have Merzbow once again influencing an entire genre of music, the one that was perfected (so they say) by V/VM, DJ Scud, and Kid606. It's a tricky proposition, however, saying these blanket statements. Perhaps these artists had never heard of Merzbow before they started their careers, and it's very probable that they didn't hear this release before they began to cut up music and issue their unauthorized remixes of artists. On a rather unrelated note, each disc that I listen to has begun to give me a bit of a headache. It's never really a serious headache or anything, just a dull aching noise. It's as though I've become a sort of Pavlovian dog, unfortunately, as every time that it comes on I get that dull ache, as though my mind has gone to mush. My mind almost shuts off, as I hear it. I don't know how good this is for the listening of the box or the listening of music, in general. But that's the point, I guess. The trance-like effect, the setting of a certain emotion or mental state upon immediate listen is what Merzbow is going for. If he is, good job. You win.


Music For True Romance Volume 1: Disc 40: February 7, 2002


I feel sorry for Merzbow, sometimes. I really do. Every jackass that has listened to ten seconds of his music holds it up as the example to throw out to their friends as the most unlistenable “music” ever made. I doubt that's what he wanted from his music. But what do you expect, really? A certain number of people will treat it completely seriously. An even smaller group of people, which I put myself in, will treat it as both farce and as idea music, but will ultimately respect it for what it is trying to do than for what it actually is. And the largest number of people will probably laugh at it, use it in conversation with their hip yuppie friends as a sarcastic jibe. “Well, man, The Strokes are pretty great, but they're no Merzbow.” Slight knowing smiles around the circle of friends, no reason for laughter because that's so 1987. It's unfortunate, really, but as with any innovation there is going to have to be a pariah. It's why you have to lean towards Roger Richards' assertion that Merzbow's music is very nuanced and different each release. It's not as though he is using the same technique or material, even though the result is sometimes very similar sounding. That's the point, though. And that's what bothers me about this whole thing. Every single assertion that I've made this whole time can't really be effectively skewered because in the case of Merzbow and a lot of other modern artists there is no right and wrong interpretation. I want black and white. I want right and wrong. I can hear Merzbow laughing right now. If you're reading this, man, I only have one thing to say to you. Nice work. This whole thing. It's fantastic in a good and a bad way. But you know what, Mr. Merzbow? I have no reaction to this whole thing. I sit impassively and receive your transmissions and it doesn't affect me. Damn you if you think you're going to have the last laugh. Sigh. I don't know if I'm going to make it.


Brain Ticket Death: Disc 41: July 20, 2002


After taking such a large break from the writing of this project I found that the project wasn't about Merzbow, in the least. The old tried and true cliché of “What can I truly know about another person's intentions?” question came up a lot in my mind, as well as the question “And even if I did, would it matter?” And I think that, maybe, Merzbow, along with any other artist, work on a simple base level for all listeners. This level is characterized by the question, “What does this music make me feel, immediately and viscerally, based on all its components?” In a traditional pop song, you'll have clearly delineated items for your perusal, which usually attempt to convey one feeling: fun, depression, unhappiness, happiness, rage, etc. Merzbow doesn't allow himself the easiness of such pop constructions. They even sound offensive to his ears- pop music=noise music to Merzbow. So the listener must make do with the music at hand, which is uncompromising in its intensity, uncompromising in its purpose, and uncompromising in its seeming arbitrariness. So, almost all we have left is “how does this make me feel?” And, let me tell you, listening to all of it in the span of two and a half months makes me feel tired. The music, itself, however, makes me feel almost the exact same thing that can be obtained in a three minute pop song. We have happiness, in a jubilant burst of noise that supersedes everything that comes before it. Anger rears its head at almost all times. There is a capacity here for everything you can find on the radio. You just have to recalibrate your value system.


Sons of Slash Noise Metal: Disc 42: July 21, 2002


Despite the fact that it is about me- and my reaction to the music, there is still some music going on. And looking back on my sparse notes for the last ten discs of this series, one word keeps popping up (whether due to habit or it being my favorite adjective of the moment is another question): propulsive. When I write propulsive I'm not trying to fool the reader into thinking that there is a large section of breakbeats or some sort of discernible beat structure to any of Merzbow's pieces. But, what I do mean to write is that there is something within the elements the Merzbow uses (or perhaps it's just the fact that he utilizes loops, in general?) there is something pushing forward- something moving beneath the surface. This, ultimately, is a great source of conflict within each song on this particular record, as well as many others in the box set. The propulsive motion of the song is kept in check by the fact that it's completely governed by loops unwilling and unable to change their general nature. It's an obvious, yet nicely crafted interplay that taps into a lot of different societal interactions that I run into daily. I want to have more friends, but am unable to overcome my shyness, etc. It's almost as if Merzbow is making passive aggressive music here. Strike that, Merzbow is making passive aggressive music here. I mean, if Merzbow isn't passive aggressive, then who is? (Don't answer that)


Exotic Apple: Disc 43: July 22, 2002


Someone once told me that they got burned out reviewing albums. It became too much- the grind of writing about the music became a bit too much. Only so many words in my vocabulary, only so many stories of Behind the Music before they run together into this mélange of hyper alcoholic hyper sexual hyper I have such a will to succeed that no one will stop me but myself and maybe myself did end up stopping me but now I'm back on top-ish stuff. And then when you don't know the band or its story at all, maybe you come up with incredibly flimsy concept reviews. A phone call to a friend, a visit to the psychiatrist, a confessional to a priest, etc. Because rock criticism can't be a buying guide anymore, right? Half the time it's more about the writer than the music being written about. And frankly, when it's done right, the writing is much better than the music. Oddly, however, I don't feel burned out writing about Merzbow. My style has changed- I've completely abandoned trying to talk about music that I could never truly make someone want to listen to. Go to (insert references to good writers here, without missing anyone that might be offended, and if you can't then just don't write anyone at all) for that sort of thing. I'm not here to convert. In fact, I think that it's mainly myself that needs the converting. So while you may think that I'm burned out, having no ideas to write about anymore on this box set- but I'm looking at this as therapeutic, a way to write about music in a way that I don't let myself do other times.


Liquid City: Disc 44: July 23, 2002


Actually maybe not even that. Maybe what I'm doing here is trying to create some sort of basis as to why I write, to try to find out the reasons I love music and try to share it with other people in this way. The obvious question stemming from that sentence, however, is why should I bother publishing this to the internet, why should I bother sullying Merzbow's name with ramblings about his music that are uninformed and, later on, talking about myself in a very self conscious Diaryland/Live Journal-esque way. I guess I can think of two reasons for this: I want people to identify with this- something like, yeah, I don't believe in my writing sometimes either (but then you can look at mine and say “But at least I'm better than this guy!”). The second reason is maybe a bit selfish- I want someone to e-mail me because of this (and please not the guy from Ireland who said “YeaH I lISTEN TO MERzboW to IS THERE any Yway you can MAKE ME MERZbox two?”). It's not a “listen to Merzbow, he's great” piece of journalism (although he is, listen to him!), it's a “listen to me whine, revel in your relative sanity compared to me” type of piece, I guess. OK. If you get a chance, listen to this particular disc, the bass line in the opening song is absolutely mind-bending. Foreboding, anger, release: it's all there in one simple line and you may never hear it again ever.


Red Magnesia Pink: Disc 45: July 24, 2002


I've been working a lot this summer. One of the part time jobs that I've had for a while now is at UPS. I unload packages out of a truck as fast as I can for approximately three hours each night. These packages are placed on rollers that lead to conveyor belts, which lead to sorters, which lead to other trucks, which lead to the customer. It's a union job, it doesn't take much intelligence, and it's extremely hot. But I like it. One of the many reasons that I enjoy the job is the sounds that accompany it. Each night we have a time clock which beeps every ten seconds. In an amazing show of efficiency, each time clock in the place is set to a different time. This means that, in the first ten minutes of getting to work and standing around waiting for it start, that I get to listen to this odd symphony of beeps going off in this seven second interval. Couple this with the sounds of large conveyor belts, creaking machinery, and the irregular yells of coworkers, this all leads into a melting pot that sounds very similar to a large portion of the music contained on this disc. I'm certainly glad, however, that Merzbow has taken this opportunity to take out my annoying coworker that tends to sing popular songs of the moment in a nasally high pitched voice. And, of course, that smells don't transfer through mp3s, although who knows, maybe on the actual disc it does smell…


Marfan Syndrome: Disc 46: July 25, 2002


But it probably doesn't smell, which is definitely a good thing. But it brings up an interesting thought (to me) that is not going to be answered by me. What is Merzbow's take on the other senses? It's obvious, as an artist that he has a very strong interest in the visual arts and I would guess, due to his bondage fascination that the tactile also has something to offer him, as well. But what about smells? Scratch this. I wrote earlier that some of the roads that Merzbow was taking in his early experiments were dead ends. Ideas that were not able to be fully examined in later works. What I just presented was a failed experiment in writing. You might think that some of these later entries are self indulgent piles of garbage. I guess they are, but sometimes I'm trying to say something through my writing that is inherent in the music that I'm listening to. I get the feeling that Merzbow doesn't care about the listener at certain points in the listening process of these discs. Therefore, I'm not going to write about the music at all- why should I write about what Akita doesn't care about? And, as it is always with modern art, the question can be raised “OK, so he doesn't care about the listener…doesn't that say something just as important as being very invested with how and why the listener is taking the time to listen?” Perhaps. Self indulgence is the privilege of the editor. Deal.


Rhinogradentia: Disc 47: July 26, 2002


Skipping a CD is also the privilege of the editor.


Space Mix Travelling Band: Disc 48: July 27, 2002


Trying to come with all encompassing statements about the entirety of this box set is, at once, a very easy and lazy proposition. So here we go: 50 CDs of noise, noise, and more noise. Not for the faint of heart, this fifty CD box set! This'll bring out the unwashed section of the experimental music loving population out! Eh, not that great, really. Some hits, some misses, all in all a very mediocre proposition- just like any fifty CD proposition. This is a comprehensive look at an utterly unessential artist's oeuvre. Only crazy people would attempt to listen to this all the way through and gain some sort of meaning from it. Trying to come with all encompassing statements about the entirety of this writing about the box set, however, is a very easy and fruitful proposition. So here we go: 50 pieces of writing about noise, noise, and more noise. Not for the faint of heart, this poor piece of writing passed off as journalism/artistic endeavor! This'll bring out the unwashed section of the experimental music loving population out! Eh, not that great, really. Some hits, some misses, all in all a very mediocre proposition- just like any piece located at Stylus Magazine. This is a comprehensive look at an utterly unessential artist's oeuvre. Only crazy people would attempt to listen to this all the way through and gain some sort of meaning from it and then write about it.


Motorond: Disc 49: August 1, 2002


And this is what gets me about the whole thing- in equal measure of five seconds of Avril Lavigne's “Complicated” and any of Merzbow's compositions on this disc we have the same emotions being expressed. A palpable depression that is nearly oppressive due to the fact that life is this horrible monstrosity that we have to muddle through in the search, the hope that someday we can find some degree of comfort in the madness that surrounds us. Lavigne uses the constructs of a pop song that was built for her in a studio by white men who know how to tap into the minds of average music lovers. Merzbow uses the constructs of an experimental composition that he built himself in the confines of a studio in Japan and he obviously knows how to tap into the minds of experimental music lovers. Is one inherently better than the other? Essentially they are using two different languages to communicate, arguably, the same feelings. It's like comparing the relative worth of the English language to French. The overriding feeling that I get when listening to Merzbow and thinking about the music afterwards is how utterly pedestrian it sounds at a certain point- he is constantly searching for something, craving some sort of resolution, much in the same way that love songs on the radio are always pining for some sort of resolution. Most of these resolutions have to do with relationships, which leads me to believe that Merzbow has created a 50 CD peon to unrequited, failed, and successful love.


Annihiloscillator: Disc 50: August 2, 2002


One possible ending:

Eh, it was OK.

Better (?) possible ending:

The only person stupider than a person who listens to and writes about Merzbow's Merzbox is the one who reads about it.


By: Todd Burns
Published on: 2002-08-26
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