13 Japanese Birds,Vol. 5: Uzura

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Uzura is the fifth volume in 13 Japanese Birds, the 2009 series of monthly recordings by Masami Akita -- aka Merzbow. The uzura is, in English, a quail. French classical composer Olivier Messiaen's Catalogue d’Oiseaux inspired these recordings; though they are also in line with Merzbow's commitment to the natural world and the protection of animals. This series is also unique in that Merzbow uses his drum kit in concert with his analog electronics on all 13 volumes. The opening segment of the three-part “Requiem for the 259,000 Quails Culled at a Farm in Toyohashi” is marked by propulsive drumming, feedback, amazing electric guitar noise, and atmospherics. Squalling oscillators, primitive keyboards, and transistor effects boxes all meld into his virtuoso drumming. The result is a physically draining but emotionally resonant one. This is true heavy metal, in the literal sense of the term. Part two is all raging death squall. It feels like the screams of the murdered birds all combined as they are systematically slaughtered. There are some dynamic shifts and changes and pulses to signify machines doing their work, indifferent to the suffering they cause. The final part of this requiem is its most musically complex, beginning with a series of crisscrossing drum patterns; reverb and stray sounds are added with purpose and precision in the mix. It feels like a dub track without the bassline for steadiness. It is the sparest cut on the record, and the most beautiful and labyrinthine musically. Uzura is compassionate, even in its violence; it is extreme music made with purpose and heart. It is full of emotion both overt and subtle, and one most of the most exciting volumes in the entire series.

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