Merzbow - Yahatahachiman [Other Voices Records - 2019]Following on from their 2017 release of Escape Mask, here Other Voices Records dig deep back into past/lost releases from Merzbow for Yahatahachiman- a 1983 release that sees very pronounced use of both set electro beats, more formal electronics, and guitar- years before the (for some) controversial 'Merzbeat' period.
The release appears in the form of a CD, which is presented in a digipak- this features densely layered collage artwork made up of an early photo of Masami Akita, Japanese letters, shapes & line drawings of bones. The release had a small edition of 200 copies, which the labels Band camp shows only small numbers remaining- so if you’re a fan of Merzbow more formal structured work, or just a generally Merz collector- you’ll need to act fairly soon to secure a copy of this.
Yahatahachiman was originally released in 1983 as a C60 on Merzbow’s ZSF Produkt- apparently, Masami Akita was none too keen on the release, since it had more formal musical/ beats/ harmony- so as a result the release was somewhat forgotten/ lost. In 2012 it got remastered & reissued a part of the vinyl boxset Lowest Music & Arts 1980-1983.
The release takes in five tracks untitled tracks in all, and each has runtimes between five and twenty-five minutes apiece, with a total runtime of spot on fifty-seven minutes. Things start in a very musical formal setting with “1” this just over twelve & a half minute track brings together a constantly snapping 'n' slapping electro beat, and an almost jiving electro element- on top of this we get more wavering & swirling layers of electronics and even harmonic guitar touches, also there are some largely subtle though at points fairly high pitched noise swirls at play too. It’s certainly a surprisingly bright & buoyant start to a Merz release.
By track “3” we find a blunt, churning, though semi-tuneful guitar chug 'n' sway been blended with swirling ‘n’ wailing noise matter- the track feels like the missing link between more manic shoe gazing & baying dense harsh noise. Later on, we get some fairly emotionally seared moments with the appearance of almost manic blues soloing layered into the sound mass. The longest track here is the just over twenty-four minutes of “4”- here we a more laid back & moody blend of wavering electro alarm like tone, slow snapping 'n' crashing beats, and rather eerier muffled radio voice banter. As the track moves on the more harmonic touches dart in & out of the tracks structure- and these get replaced lo-fi & eerier space tone swims, low-key moody organ simmers, and other atmospheric sound matter. Again a rather surprising & different Merzbow track for this period.
In conclusion, Yahatahachiman is another worthy trip into the lesser heard side of Japan's king of noise back catalogue, and it offers up more moody/ atmospheric fare that utilizes both formal beats, electronics, and guitar elements. Head here to get hold of a copy before they're all gone!.Roger Batty