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Merzbow - 13 Japanese Birds Volume Four - Karasu [Important Records - 2009]

'Karasu' is the forth album in the series of thirteen Japanese Bird releases on Important records by the long running & highly prolific noise project Merzbow. This release follows the pattern of the other  releases in the series thus far with a very predominate use of live improvised drums through-out most of the tracks on offer here.

Opening up the album we have the track ‘Argus’  which comes in just under the twenty minute mark & it finds Merzbow attacking you with an aggressive, shifting & quite battering improvised live drum attack which is seared at first by this deep stretched out synth drone; then later he adds in lots lower psychedelic noise texturing that take in swirls, bubbles & boils. And lastly we have this sudden waltzing  harmonic pitch which appears in the first half of the track, this element has appeared on a few Merzbow releases over the last year or so, but originally appeared on early 09’s Dead Leaves album. The tracks is an 'ok' live drum track that keeps your attention due to it ‘s twists & turns of noise tone & textural layer shift, through it doesn’t really add anything new to what he’s already done on the other Japanese bird volumes.

Next we have a track called ‘Stone the crows’ which is the longest & most rewarding track here at just under the twenty eight minute mark. It starts out complete striped of drums & mixing together this space station like high pitch slo-mo alarming shifting tone, and a deeper static like wow wow noise  peddle tone. As the track goes on Merzbow creates this playfully yet  seared sci-fi scape of lower & higher pitched tones & textures of noise.  The drums don’t appear until around the five minute, but even the threre quite low in the mix and are used in a battering pulse like manner that’s less about keeping rhythmic and more about adding another interesting layer to the noise soup.  Around the ten minute mark the drums are cut-out for some more atmospheric space synth whirls & burn. The drums appear once more around twelve minute mark with a rhythm that rather brought to mind a rougher take on the Merzbeat electro drum tracks, but these drums have  disappeared by the last ten minutes of the track leaving this great stretched out bass siren synth noise tone that’s seared & scrubbed by smaller spacey feedback textures and noise guitar texturing. All told a great & creative long form Merzbow  track.

Lastly we have ‘Morgue’ which is the baby of the three tracks coming in at just shy of the seventeen minute mark. This track mixers together nasty searing like bass guitar grinds that sounds like Napalm Deaths 'Scum' revved down to a grim purr, dense & detailed murky jazz meets semi industrial drum battering,  ear searing cymbal & high pitch junk yard Gamelan attacks & noise fazer grinds. It’s a great mean ‘n’ nasty slice of slightly darkly grooved yet grimy noise making.

All told another worthy volume in the Japanese Bird series; it’s just a pity the first track lacks greatness & originality as the other two tracks are very worthy aditions to Merzbow’s developing & shifting take on noise making.

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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