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If anyone thought Masami Akita (aka Merzbow) had been getting soft, Frog should set things straight. True, the noisician has been involved in more restrained projects at the turn of the millennium (like his collaboration with Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Quintet, for instance). But this LP, released by the Texas-based label Misanthropic Agenda, is all glorious vintage Merzbow: ear-grinding, provocative, and intelligent. The cover artwork gives indications as to what the music held inside sounds like, but not necessarily what it actually is. Side one opens with the cawing of frogs -- not your average field recording, these are loud monsters. The artist crunches his modified guitar (or whatever apparatus he used here) to mimic the instantaneously recognizable sound. The same applies to the rocks and shells pictured on the cover. Listeners hear something like them in the last piece, "Catch 22." The knocking sound (objects on a glass table?) provides the backbone of the track, the only one where room is made for silence -- heavy, menacing silence. An epilogue of sorts, it works well against the four heavily textured pieces preceding it. In these, layer upon layer of harsh noise cycle rhythmically, making way occasionally for the frogs to reappear. Some fans may think 34 minutes is a bit shortish, but it remains the best duration to enjoy Merzbow's music before the headache settles in. This LP is pressed on green and red vinyl with Akita's collage art on the inside cover, making it a very nice object in addition to a fine, if not essential, Merzbow release. [Frog was also released with bonus tracks.]

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