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Go to the Merzbow website  Merzbow - Amlux [Important Records - 2002]

Noise! Masami Akita aka Merzbow is and has always been the leading figure in the Japanese noise scene. His enormous discography, including numerous collaborations with a wide range of artists, is still increasing and "Amlux" is the first release in 2002, on Important Records.

"Amlux" is inspired by the changes in the big city, taking the name from Toyota's massive multi-storey showroom in Tokyo and Osaka as beautiful metaphor. On this release, Masami Akita has taken a different approach in recording and producing his manipulated noise. This is not random noise but well thought-out and structured loops, pulses and sound layers.

The new album contains four tracks, starting with "Takemitsu". This 5 ½ minute long track is inspired and dedicated to Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996), a Japanese self-taught composer who was fascinated by Western music during the hardship of the Second World War. "Takemitsu" is a very rhythmic piece with diverse sound growing towards a scorching noise burst, before continuing in an effectively layered industrial pulse. The track is definitely one of the better compositions by Mr. Akita, and even manages to have a "rocking" feeling. "Looping Jane" is the second piece on "Amlux" and again ends up as a surprising work. The track is based around manipulated distorted guitar loops and drums loops to create an ambient noise symphony that seems nice to the ears, but still has those moments of harsh noise Merzbow is known for. "Cow Cow" is a short and intense track, followed by the long and stretched-out "Luxurious Automobile (Krokodil Texas Mix)", where droning ambient and loaded textures advance slowly in sudden filtered blare, like on the other "Amlux" tracks.

So, "Amlux" is by all means not a disappointing album. Instead, I feel this release stands out as one of the best modern Merzbow works. It shows that Masami Akita can do a lot more than just make some noise; "Amlux" is quite different from other Merzbow works because it's very structured and rhythmic. I don't know if this is the direction future releases of this sound-artist are going to, but I'm looking forward to the remix album that will be releases later this year. It is tentatively entitled "Merzmix", on which the remixers will use "Amlux" as source material for original compositions. Featured artists that have been confirmed so far are Alec Empire, Bola, Chicks On Speed, Jack Dangers, Acid Mothers Temple, DJ Spooky, and a lot more.

Merzbow fans should pay attention to this release.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Justin Faase
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