Merzbow - Nezumimochi [Cold Spring - 2014]The almighty Cold Spring Records presents Nezumimochi, the new album from the one and only Merzbow. This new studio recording is presented in a picture disc LP and CD set. Each format contains their own tracks, so in other words, the CD is not just the same as the vinyl for sake of convenience.
Love him or hate him, there’s no doubt that Masami Akita’s Merzbow project is one of the most prolific in the experimental noise genre. Having been around since 1979, the king of Japanoise has well over 400 releases under his belt. Of course, with that much output you’re bound to have highs and lows. The most recent release I heard from Merz was his collaboration with Full of Hell. While an enjoyable listen, Akita’s skills were glaringly muted on that release. With such longevity also comes the suspicion that an artist hits a point where they just start phoning it in and simply rest on their laurels. I can happily say that Nezumimochi is no lackluster offering and that it slays in every possible way.
Starting with the picture disc, Merzbow offers up two side long tracks with “Rat” and “Rice Cake.” “Rat,” is an unfolding car crash of: see-sawing synth pulses, bending static crunch, piercing highs, shifting static wash, and other digital oddities. “Rice Cake” unfolds in similar fashion, but with more emphasis on pulsing beats and digital rhythmic patterns. Of course there’s plenty of shifting static screaming through the more focused parts of the piece.
The 3 tracks that make up the CD portion of the release take a cue from the LP but really amp up the harsh elements, engulfing the more rhythmic aspects of the pieces. “Tamatsubaki” begins with a briskly moving synth pattern that quickly gets demolished by crushing static crunch. Laser like synth blasts move in repetition while manipulated static screams, as if almost masking screeching human vocals. “Joteishi,” takes up where the former track ended, but with a heavy emphasis on beats. It almost approaches danceability, but not without a heavy dose of noisy detritus. The final epic track “Matebashii,” sounds like a collision of the two aforementioned tracks only sped up to chaotic fury. The mid section of the piece slows things up a bit with an array of winding and sputtering synth tones, but then picks up again to punish us in the best possible ways.
Anyone hesitant to pick up a new Merzbow album, fearing that it might not live up to some of his older classics (yes we all love Pulse Demon), let not your heart be troubled. Or put another way, if I had to recommend a later day Merzbow album that shows he’s still got the goods, I would recommend Nezumimochi without hesitation. Hal Harmon