Merzbow - Aodron [Automation Records - 2017]Masami Akita’s Merzbow needs no introduction to anyone who has even the slightest passing interest in the industrial or (japa)noise scenes. With coming on for 300 albums released in a 30 year period Akita has proven not just his longevity as an artist, but also he’s continued to develop creatively.
From the utterly brutal sonics of his early 80 and 90’s period through to the post-laptop intricacies of his latter day material whatever Akita releases you know it’s not going to sit quietly alongside those ambient albums you own, it’s going to hurt from the moment you begin listening.
And here we find Aodron: released on the US based Automation Records this five track album comes in at 60 minutes. The album is comprised of familiar elements of the Merzbow sound: oscillating feedback, distorted synths, and slabs of metallic industrial noise.
Beginning with “Ao part 1” you are immediately thrown into a world of perpetually revolving frequencies and a wall of washed out pink noise that just builds to the point of raising the hairs on the back of your neck.
I have found with this later period in Merzbows’ journey that the music is becoming far more controlled. The utter wall of aural razor-wire seems to have been replaced with a more honed and, dare I say, softer sound. This has the effect of making it both easier (!) and somewhat more detailed.
There was always the joke that asking Merzbow for an album in the 90’s meant he’d turn all the effects up to breaking point and sod off out for an hour whilst the album recorded! This isn’t the case any longer. “Ao Part 2” for example has an old school feel, but with such delicate facets to it, it’s almost beautiful. Yes this is brutal, but it’s not ear splitting, in fact by the mid point I’m getting a little prog-rock feel from it!
Noise is cathartic, it’s not normally a subtle art form, it’s meant to hurt. That said, it’s also meant to be enjoyable, and Merzbow does manage to meld these two normally disparate entities perfectly. “Tetsu To”, is an 18 minute rush of pink noise and voltage controlled oscillations giving you the excitement and pure adrenalin rush of free falling before you realise you aren’t landing somewhere soft, but straight into a turbine.
Merzbow has the noise world at his feet. He is the master of relentless ear drum bursting sonic delight. With the number of albums he’s released some are better than others: I’m sure his difficult 3rd album was probably more likely his difficult 33rd album. With Aodron he shows, once again, why he’s the godfather of noise – perfect!Adam Skyes