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Merzbow - 13 Japanese Birds Vol. 1: Sozume [Important Records - 2009]

This is the first volume of Merzbow’s biggest sonic project since the Merzbox in total there will be 13 discs in the Japanese Bird series, with one disc released each month until early 2010. Also when all 13 discs are out a very special hand made bamboo box  to store all the disks is going to made available featuring a painting by Merzbow himself; so as you can see this stands as one of biggest works undertaken yet by the Japanese noise master.

The concept behind the projects title, theme and sometimes its sound is taken from Olivier Messaien's Catalogue D'Oiseaux (Bird catalogue work) which tried to recreate bird songs and their sound into a modern classical piano form. But fear not Merzbow has'nt gone all mellow and paino on us, he's still in his normal creative noise bound form through-out. Starting things off we have Red Bird of Summer Part 1 which crashers in with a bone juddering drum attack, noise feed-back grain and a piercing, repetitive and slightly harmonic electro tone that does have a rather demented and amped-up bird song like quality about it. The rest of the 19 minute track sails between the dense percussive improv attacks, high pitch noise squawks, laser grades of noise and the odd touch of deeper grainer noise- it’s a fairly pleasing opener, through it’s not a huge departure from his other recent live drum based work.

Next up we have Fandangos in Space which is the only none drum based track here & is also quite different/new sounding. It opens up with a wind swept & slightly harmonic noise fuzz  but pretty soon it descends into a constantly moving mixture of caustic brain screwing accelerated tones, effect peddle psychedelics and stretched harmonic noise drones- it’s just a pity it only last just under the 6 minute mark.TNext we have another fairly short  6 minute track in the form of Tori Uta which is all about tight drum and cymbal runs that shift with all manner electro twittering, squawking and bird like screeching; with also the odd grainy more old school like industrial noise trails sneaking in here and there too. Then last of all we have Red Bird of Summer Part 2 which kicks in with a rather sleek yet grainy bass lined synth noise purr and a complex and big sound improv drum work-out. As the track progresses Merzbow carefully adds in different noise grains and pitchers over the top of the drums and synth bass line purr, as well as a slight hints at the harmonic waltz like loop that appeared on last years Dead Leaves. At about the 6 minute work the bass line clicks out for a impressive and fiery battering between very caustic and high noise swirls and bombarding yet sleek drum battering .

All told another good but not great Merzbow album that sees him creating another mainly drum based collection of tracks; it’s not bad by an means I just expected more of a departure in sound like that shown in the Fandangos in Space track – but it’s early days for the series so I'm looking forward to hearing the other 12 discs and I’m sure they’ll offer up more than a few different sonic turns and twists along the way.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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