Wednesday, April 10, 2013
MAGNIFIERS: MERZbook by Brett Woodward
This fine volume from Extreme (Australia/1999) attempted the impossible by producing the ultimate appreciation of the rise of Japanese noise as created by Masami Akita aka Merzbow, whose output has been nothing short of staggering. MERZbook originally came out as part of the Merzbox compendium of Masami's cassettes/CD releases, collaborations, artwork, interviews, and writings. As it was hardly condensed at 50 compact discs, it's subtitle "The Pleasuredome of Noise" seems entirely warranted for this package's sheer immersion into Masami's response to Japanese culture, attitudes to sexuality, power, politics, information overload, and even music.. Merzbow takes essentially formless blasts of noise and sculpts them into a varied sonic palette that he's re-worked innumerable times only to find a stubbornly secretive, yet evocative medium that rewards repeated listening as it also alienates those who run from the chaos of our contemporary world. It may be the most modern "music" ever, even as it comes decades after the Italian Futurists first announced their love of speed, technology, and violence via sonic blasts from their intonarumori. Brett Woodward and an army of designers/consultants did a fine job at giving a semblance of form to an amazing amount of material (written, aural, and visual) that constitutes this project. Listen and look. It's still a vital confrontation.