Wednesday, March 6, 2013


It was a rather quiet New York evening considering Masami Akita's reputation for  explosive ideas ,  sounds,  and imagery,  the language barrier and Masami's reserved nature keeping things perhaps a bit too civilized.  He had come to NYC to write an article on the downtown art/music scene for a Japanese travel magazine (Excentrique), accompanied by then wife Reiko (who also performed with him live and often spoke for him,  as her spoken english seemed better), as well as a photographer. Coincidentally, my paintings were in a group show at Condeso-Lawler Gallery in SoHo,  so I appeared to be part of the art scene and made it into the magazine as well. I had been corresponding with Masami for quite a while at that point (late eighties,  early nineties),  listened to a multitude of his cassette releases,  and knew his influences and procedures pretty well.  We were joined that evening by Paul Lemos of Controlled Bleeding,  who certainly brought a bit of humor to what could have become a rather dour meeting of  international noisheads.  Paul cracked me up,  being outfitted like a lounge singer in a white dinner jacket,  tie,  and black dress slacks. We all had a few drinks at my place and then proceeded to a nearby Italian restaurant where pizza and beer were our chosen staples. Ironically, my overall impression of Masami was that he was somewhat shy,  though seemingly bursting with ideas about  japanese culture/sexual attitudes,  the innate body politic of extreme noise,  and a fetishist's obsessiveness with restless creativity. The encroachment of any kind of noise culture seemed subtle at best,  a quality not usually associated with either Merzbow or Controlled Bleeding at that point. All in all it was a rather uneventful evening,  with the exception of Paul's "kiss on the cheek" greeting of Reiko,  who was visibly taken aback by what she probably considered a personal intrusion.  It was hardly an international incident,  but seemed a strange bit of culture shock after what most would consider Masami's rather left-field interests and extreme body bludgeoning noise.  And so it goes:

"Most Japanese noise artists never use computers or very high-tech equipment. We tend to be very low-tech and analogue, so our actions show the effects of expanded noisehands, muscles...the body's movement." 

                         Masami Akita (Merzbow)

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