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Merzbird Review

by Rick Anderson

Masami Akita (aka Merzbow) is one of the most prolific, if not the most prolific, noise artists of the last three decades. Although much of his output has been restricted to self-released cassette tapes, he has attained legendary status in the avant-garde scene, and in recent years his work has been featured on a number of respected outsider labels. Important is the latest imprint to take on a Merzbow project, this one titled Merzbird. The album's six tracks are all named after birds of one variety or another and the insert includes a link to the website of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but don't expect any dewy-eyed environmental sentimentality here. The music is all abrasive, beat-based electronica -- not the funky kind, but the scratchy, glitchy, relentless kind. Imagine Muslimgauze at his densest, then imagine that sound multiplied by a factor of four and without the Middle Eastern trappings, and you'll have a good idea of what to expect. If you like (or hate) one track you'll like (or hate) all of them. "Black Swan" borders on unlistenable, while "Mandarin Duck" is a bit more accessible if not exactly pleasant. Neither "Emu" nor "Victoria Crowned Pigeon" generates much musical interest beyond the unapproachable harshness of Akita's electronic textures, but "White Peafowl" offers a fair amount of musical depth beyond its grinding, pounding surface. You already know whether you want this album or not -- in fact, you probably knew the moment you saw the name Merzbow -- so if you're still reading at this point you're probably just desperate for something to do.

blue highlight denotes track pick