REVIEWS

MERZBOW
24 Hours A Day Of Seals (Dirtier Promotions)

 

If you are into black/death metal and grindcore, Merzbow may be your next leap upwards in the evolution of noise. It may also be your point of no return. His new CD, 24 Hours A Day Of Seals (one of BigO's Albums of 2002), is actually a four-CD boxset powered by a guitar, laptops and synthesiser. It’s mesmerising, overwhelming and completely blurs the line between punishment and pleasure. (Yes folks, Merzbow has previously recorded two volumes of music called Music For Bondage as well as having written two books on The History of Bondage.)

Masami Akita aka Merzbow has been experimenting with noise since the '70s. Among his favourite metal groups are Burzum, Immortal, Napalm Death, Carcass, Enslaved, Sattricon, Unholy, Emperor, Beherit, Soulgrind, Taake, Odhinn and Morbid Angel and he counts exteme heavy metal as a primary influence. Of course, the industrial influence is there as well with Throbbing Gristle or SPK.

24 Hours has been called the "most satisfying" Merzbow album. That’s probably wishful thinking on the part of exhausted critics who had to deal with his recent Merzbox, a 50-CD box which retrospected 20 years of his music. Merzbow is exceedingly prolific and keeping a perspective of him is near impossible. 24 Hours wasn’t the only Merzbow release in 2002.

At the same time, it’s easy to see why this album can be called "satisfying." From the first track, Good Morning Azarashi, a flanging guitar loop hits you like a tropical squall for 14 mins. You feel almost refreshed and cleansed. Other longer tracks like Scarletstripped Clean Guitar is 20 minutes of calculated guitar fury, And the epic 44-minute Charcoal Gray Clouds is a phenomenal meditational exercise in the eye of an aural storm.

Unlike a lot of metal, Merzbow’s music isn’t about anger or the release of it. It’s about the possibilities of sound and, in this case, whether noise cannot be enjoyed as music.

As Merzbow once said: "There is no difference between noise and music in my work. I have no idea what you term ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ it’s different depending on each person. If noise means uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me." — Philip Cheah


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