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MERZBOW
TAKAHE COLLAGE”
EDITION: 500 CD
CATALOG NUMBER: HBDIS-060
RELEASE DATE: MAR 2013
AVAILABILITY: BUY NOW

“Having had a few years elapse since hearing my last Masami Akita record, this seemed like a good time to step back in.  The best thing about following this schedule with his work is that the variation and evolution he has shown in his overall sound keep things consistently fresh.  Takahe Collage covers both his harsh noise past and his flirtations with rhythm in a way that meshes together perfectly.

The first two pieces clock in at around a half hour each, making this album not among the easiest to digest, but Akita excels within these longer frameworks.  The title piece launches off immediately, presenting his more recent approach to electronic rhythms, but processed in his own idiosyncratic way.  A paring of an blasting drum machine with lurching machinery underscores an erratic barrage of dive-bombing sine waves.

The rhythms continue throughout, evolving and shifting from synth pulses to insistent bulldozer surges to mix both distorted noise and pure, aggressive tones.  At times the rhythms lock in and the remainder of the mix becomes more sparse, and a very Information Overload Unit era SPK sensibility bleeds through. Within the closing minutes, however, he goes for the usual balls out Merzbow noise roar.

‘Tendenko’ is more of a throwback to the mid '90s era of Merzbow (which is where my experience with him began), that goes for the walls of slowly shifting noise that the Incapacitants do so well, with a bit less of Akita's junk metal noise shining through.  As old school as it is, there still is a buried, underlying rhythm that nods to his more recent works, covering both classic and modern sounds.

On the shorter (at a paltry 12 minutes) closer ‘Grand Owl Habitat,’ once again the rhythms are removed, with an overall dense, complex structure with individual pieces sliding in and out from one another:  a rigid, stuttering rhythm with blasts of noise going off all around.  It is similar to the title piece, but not quite as diverse, but due to its comparatively shorter duration it is not a problem.

After having burnt myself out on his release schedule in the latter part of the 1990s, my more contemporary experiences with Akita's output have been both more enjoyable and more rewarding.  While my self-imposed distance from his always exponentially expanding discography may have improved my appreciation, Takahe Collage feels like more than that: a compelling work that is not just a great Merzbow record, but an exceptional noise album on its own.” – Brainwashed 

"There is no need to argue: Merzbow stands as the most important artist in noise music. The favorite 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 (through Schwitters' collage method) and his fascination with ritualized eroticism, namely in the form of fetishism and bondage. All these elements constitute the Merzbow persona.

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. After high school, Akita studied literature and visual arts in college. There he discovered free jazz and studied seriously the ideas of Dada and the surrealists (Salvador Dali remained a big influence). Akita gradually withdrew himself from the rock scene and began experimenting in his basement with broken tape recorders and feedback.

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. Mizutani occasionally appeared on some of the raw material, as would other musicians (like Reiko.A), but in essence Merzbow is Akita and would always be. The artist/group made low-budget live appearances in Tokyo, but his main focus remained on his art production and his writing (he is erudite in 20th century art and the Japanese tradition of bondage).

In 1983, Akita's first LP, Material Action 2 (NAM), was released on Chaos/Eastern Works in Japan. Out of the mail-art network and into the specialty record shops, Merzbow began to attract some eyes and ears. Akita started a second label, ZSF Produkt, which put out dozens of 7"s, EPs, LPs, and more cassettes. 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. He toured Europe and the U.S., and had high(er)-profile releases on Extreme, RRR, and Alchemy.

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 worldwide touring, have taken the artist out of mythical status and propelled him into the legendary. In the late '90s, Akita started to collaborate with other 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 Frog (2001), V (2003), Merzbird (2004), the two-volume set Minazo (2006), Merzbear and Synth Destruction (2007), Dolphin Sonar (2008), and the multi-volume 13 Japanese Birds series issued monthly between January 2009 and January 2010. He followed this massive undertaking with Another Merzbow Records, released by the U.K's Dirtier Promotions imprint in April of 2010. Ever prolific, and with a huge backlog of archival material, Akita released ten collections in 2011, as well as an additional four live sets, and four more albums appeared in 2012, along with the box sets Merzphysics and Merzmorphosis." – All Music

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