13 Japanese Birds, Vol. 8: Kokuchov

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Kokuchov is Merzbow's eighth volume in the 13 Japanese Birds series, a collection of recordings that underscores his commitment to the natural world and pays tribute to the influence of French composer Olivier Messiaen, whose own tribute to fowl accounts for a valued piece of 20th century classical music known as Catalogue d'Oiseaux. On Kokuchov (nicknamed for a black swan), Masami Akita (Merzbow) returns to his drum kit. He is a formidable drummer, to say the very least; an utterly creative musician, he can play forms as well as visionary improvisations. He employs the drums generously against and in concert with his power electronics. This is especially true on “Black Swan,” and on the album’s closing track “Ushiwaka 2.” The latter of these showcases a series of repetitive rhythms slowly evolving as other sounds, from sampled guitar drones and reverb to industrial sounds, are gradually folded in, creating an uncharacteristic set of dynamics that is somewhat less punishing than some of his other pieces. “Mesmerism,” opens the set with a series of pulsing, gated keyboard sounds that are hopelessly distorted, as drums punctuate the end of every line. As the piece develops, more keyboards are layered on top and folded in, creating a body of sounds that is not unlike what it might be like to hear Martin Rev play with Loop live! Guitar sounds shift in and out of the keyboard racket, drums fill what little space there is and force the rhythmic pulse forward into oblivion. None of the records in this series are dismissable, but Kokuchov ranks among the most diverse and musically compelling in the entire series.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 5:32
2 24:03
3 13:22
4 7:25
blue highlight denotes track pick