Merzbow - Arijigoku [Vivo - 2008]Arijigoku finds Merzbow returning to his former musical life before noise as a drummer, with heavy use of live drum rhythms to create what’s best described as a jamming noise record with rock and jazz influence rhythms abound. It’s another curious often rewarding progression in his shifting sound world.
The album is split into four part Arijigoku named tracks, taking in a total of near on 70 minutes. First up we have part one which slams straight in a rapid and bone shaking drum work out with screeching and burning noise textures firing off over the top. Merzbow is really pounding the hell out of the drums with one bullet like roll after another with the drums seemingly bleeding into the noise matter, which remains constant and shifting with quite a bastardised and melted guitar feel about it. The noise matter doesn’t sound as complex or layered as usually feeling like he’s trying to make his version of a snaking jam, though through out he keeps it fairly interesting by shifting, melt and at times stopping the rhythmic bombardment all togeather-this track lasts just short of 18 minutes.
Next up is part two which comes in with a looped noise air texture before droping into another manic drum work out that has some nice jazzy fills along the way. This time the drum elements seem distant and apart from the noise elements. The noise element to beginning with is made out of twisting yet quite cute pitchers of higher and wining sound, later it flicks over to bastardised and melted guitar sound from the first track again, though the drum element is the main focus here with the noise element adding texturing and contrast more than been been a major player in the track make –up, again this track is around the 18 minute mark.
Track three opens with a nice warbling and tense feedback pitch before slamming into another manic and quite speedy series of drum rolls and attacks. This time it's a bit more cymbal heavy, with the noise often a lot higher, searing and rewarding in the mix- Merzbow building up some great searing and roaring pitchers of sound. There's also the nice warbling and tense feed back tone from the start that appears later on in the track often droning on in the background. This is certainly my favourite and most rewarding track here, which again comes in just shy of 18 minute mark. Lastly of course we have part four which starts of with crashing cymbal sounds before jumping into another drum attack with the stretched out and boil static noise elements melding and rubbing into the cymbal textures- this certainly seems the most freaked-out and really going for it tracks out of the four on offer here. It shows some tinny fragments of harmonic textures too with-in the sound, it also becomes more noisy and boiling fog like as the track progresses with the drum elements cutting out(or just been buried) for quite long stretchers of time.
As an interesting side note this is the first Merzbow album I’m aware of that has been recorded some where other than his Bedroom, this been recorded in Munemi House and Sound Studio Noah and then mixed in Munemi House. Arijigoku offers up a new facet and edge to Merzbow’s work and while many of the tracks rhythmic elements seem a little unrewarding and samey, towards the second half of the album things firm up more and become much more rewarding. Really it’s best to see Arijigoku as a sonic step stone to the next faze of Merzbow's sound.Roger Batty