Merzbow - Chameleon Body [Slowdown Records - 2019]Chameleon Body is a two-track CD album that dates back to the classic Merz-days of the mid 1990s. Part of the material here has been released official once before, but that was just a nine-minute snippet that appeared on Merzbox- the work here has given a 2019 remastering. The release offers up a seared ‘n’ shifting noise composition that brings together scorching electro texturing, choppy electronics, and forking/baying junk metal elements.
This recent CD release appears on Japans Slowdown Records- and it’s part of a selection of recent Merzbow CD boxsets & single disc releases which have seen the Japanese king of noise digging back through his huge archive of rare/ unreleased material. The release comes presented in a dull silver slip sleeve, and inside this we get a plain white card slip sleeve that holds the CD. The front cover features a blue water ripple-like pattern against the sliver backdrop, and on the back, we get minimal white text detailing the release, it’s tracklisting & release details.
In all the release lasts dead on forty-six minutes- with a length around a thirty-nine-minute track, then a shorter around seven-minute track. The two tracks are very active, and shifting in their roasting layers of sound- and for the most part, the tracks rather lack the more set & at times rhythmic elements of some of Merzbow work- so as a result, I’d say this has a fairly jam-like feel about it. The original recording date was April 1995- and a nine-minute segment of the track appeared on the Merzbox's disc 45 Red Magnesia Pink.
The release opens with “Chameleon Body Part 1”- this opens with a line pettering pop ‘n’ snap, fairly soon this is added to by interlocking sways of seared electro sweeps, whistling 'n' high pitched bays, and rapid clamoring ‘n’ churning junk metal tones. As the track moves on the whole thing maintains a sort of red hot roasting swirl- like shifting sways of lava- at times we find more ear grating highs rising up. Then we get more clamoring and slicing mids appearing, or we shifting into more angular descents of rapidly chopping 'n' and feasting junk metal tones. At moments layers strip back, and at times you think the whole thing might pare back to banging or twitching lines of junk metal- but it never does as Merz sends more sways of ear melting noise. From time-to-time you can just make out very faint touches of more playful loops appearing- but these never really make much of an impression & instead we get a soundscape of twisting 'n' roasting harsh noise. The shifts & turns in the sound remain fairly constant & rapid- so you never really get a chance to catch your breath- but if you are just after eventful 90’s harsh noise this will certainly fit the bill.
The second track is “Chameleon Body Part 2”- and here we begin with rapidly twisting ‘n’ baying lines of high pitched siren tone. shortly these are added to by rapid chucks of cut-up noise matter- we get choppy waves on mid-range bays, cascading lines of static chop, and searing high tone pulls. From time-to-time in the mass of sound you get chopped up piano tone/ muzak- but these strands of sound are very fleeting- really this shorter second track is all about rapidly shifting between more pared-back textural chops & bays, and denser shifting layers of sound- we do also get slightly longer moments of almost rhythmic electro fed looping going on here- though again there is a fairly loose feel to proceedings.
On the whole Chameleon Body is certainly a eventful, often rapidly shifting and intense example of 1990’s harsh noise- at moments you can hear Merz early more playful & quirky touches trying to get through- but here he’s really focusing on building a searing & twisting slice of Jap noise. If you fancy hearing a sample of this release or pick up a copy- head over Slowdown Records here