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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Merzbow - Tapestry Of Noise [Slowdown Records - 2019]

Appearing in late 2019 Tapestry Of Noise is a six-CD set focusing in the 1990’s- that most celebrated & respected of decades in the  career of Japanese noise legend Merzbow. The boxset brings together unreleased material, different mixes of known albums, and releases that have been out of print for some time. So very much a release focused at the Merz-collector….though that said there is some great material on display here.

This boxset was put out by Japan's Slowdown Records, and is part of a series Merzbow CD boxset & single disc releases- that have seen the Japanese king of noise digging back through his seemingly vast archive of rare/ unreleased material. Each of the six CD's come in a colour collage cover- which features slight spit & out of mesh colour printing- to a hazed/ psychedelic effect. Inside these, we get a plain white card slip sleeve that holds the CD. On the back of each sleeve; we get minimal white text detailing the release, its tracklisting & release details. These all come packaged in a dull matted box- featuring yet more collage artwork.

First up on disc one we have Cloud Cock OO Grand- another mix, and as it titles suggest it offers up a different take on the Cloud Cock OO Grand album, which appeared on Merzbow's ZSF productions in the year 1990. As well as the different mix the track order is changed, titles adjusted, tracks extended, etc- so this is fairly different from the original release. Proceedings start off with the longest track here “Spinozaamen” which roles in at 24.08- it begins with a blend of lullingly grinding & baying tones, which sound akin to a field recording of a busy machine shop- as this continues more harmonic/ musical traces start to come in, be it stop-start radio samples, stretched tape loops, more harmony based drones/ electro tones. As it moves on Merz keeps the whole thing fairly shifting & active in its flow with moments grainy textural meets, fork & baying noise tones, and lose tape elements- it’s not the most nuanced/ focused of Merz tracks, but it’s a good enough opener. Next “Autopussy Go No Go2”- and this is one of the extended tracks- this new version runs just shy of thirteen & a half minutes, where the original track hit just under the eight-minutes- and I must say this is one of the highlights of this first disc. The tracks built around a rewarding blend twitching ‘n’ darting-darting electro shorts, higher-pitched sweeps, jittering textural/ semi-harmonic rips all fed out into a decidedly seared yet jauntingly playful almost groove like noise vibe. Next, we have the just shy of six & a half-minute of “Untitled”- here we find more scratching & baying electro shorts over the top of a sustained & fading single throbbing synth note. After around the midway point, more layers of ripped & snipped Muzak tape loops appear, along with sudden pitch sustains & whistles. The album finishes off with “Brain Forest”- this shortens the original track name from "Brain Forest For Metal Acoustic Concrete", as well as chopping off ten minutes of its length- here we get a fairly lose blend of tape loop swirl & bay, simmer & hovering pitch drift, and playful-at-points groove & or harmonic based tape loops. So on the whole certainly a version of its own worth

 

Next up we have Crash For Hi-Fi Tapes- this dates from 1991, and takes in three tracks & sixty-six minutes of noise- and fitting the title has a often manic use of tapes/ loops. Kicking things off we have “May 91 Hi-Fi Mix”- this is the longest track on the disc at twenty-five minutes & twenty-four minutes playtime. It begins with a rapidly chiming guitar loop, baying reel swipes, and mangled live noise-guitar. As we move on the loops go from sounding a bit more 70’s prog like, onto bouncing rock-pop piano like with extra wondering key loops on top, through to noise-up careering & running loops that blend 50’s tv banter, advert jingles, stuck manic rhythmic spools & pitch shift blends of stuck pop-rock, tiny rhythmic loops, and baying blues-rock tones. Next, we have "91~~~mix", here things are a lot more seared- as we open with a blend of roasting noise tone sweeps, slowed harsh noise sweeps, and cluttering Merz guitar bays. By around the three-minute mark, things start to space-out/ open somewhat, though it’s still damn searing- as we find blends of smashing & forking loops, cluttering junk metal tones, and sudden piercing highs.  Lastly, we have “1991 A1”- this rolls in at just over the twenty-one-minute mark- and once again things are nicely seared- as we move from blend baying trumpets, textured scraps & feast, and high end slurred loop jitters. As we move on we find speed-up & stretched quirky tape reels moving against screaming & baying Merz-guitar rises, as shredding & roasting harsh masses are pushed into each other. I enjoy the way the tracks here seem to slowly-surely- moving from playful & quirky loop/ tape reeled based composition, onto baying & scrabbing harsh noise which still flits & darts with the loop/ tape beginnings.

Next, we have 1991’s Travelling- this comes in at fifty-five minutes, and features four tracks. And it’s a great 1990’s ear grating-yet-eventful Merz release- we go from the jumping & jerking loops, baying & searing noise sweeps, and overloading delay piles-ups of the near seventeen & half minute opener “1171991 Mix. Onto the sourly waving mid-to-high-end swoop and cluttering hack of “91519-1 Mix”, which the shortest though most intense track here at just over the six-minute mark. Onto the clamouring & chopping noise loops meets baying-to-cascading junk metal denseness of “91519.2a” which nearly hits the nine twenty mark. The release ends with the longest track on this disc- the twenty-two & half minutes of “May 891 Mix”- here we find wow-wowed ‘n’ bouncing Merz-guitar, meeting clattering junk wails & stretches, as forking & wince-inducing tone sweep.

For disc number three we get the first of the Untitled 1991 trio of releases. This disc takes in just two tracks and fifty minutes of playtime. We start off with “1941mix” it runs at just shy of the thirty-six-minute mark, and it’s a wonderfully shifting & eventful track. It opens with a shifting blend of stuck & jumping elements- there’s the choppy harmonic, the glitchy seared, and the clashing & grating- and though out these Merzbow is weaving roasting & galloping noise grain to great effect. By the three & a half minute mark we shifting into searing noise tone sways, which meet merz-guitar neck scuttle & bay, and cluttering-to- chopping loop pile-ups. As we move towards the 8th minute we find wonderful foreboding sweeps of mid-range feedback, which is edged by bays, roasting feasts, and junk metal textural raging. By mid- waypoint, we get a dense-yet- slightly unease blend of sparking ‘n’ grind noise bash and whine, which is underfed by grimly atmospheric pitch tone shifts. As we move into the last quarter of an hour we find a blend accelerating race track like noise drones, with are bayed textured picks, buzzers & grinds. With the remaining ten or so minutes playing out with  more spaced-out junk texturing, buzzing sustains & stop-start loop action. Next, we have “91519-2b” this rolls in at the fourteen & a  half minute mark- it begins with a selection stabbing ‘n’ slicing loops, which feature some more sustained noise grain moments & violent violin neck scrambles. By five minute mark, the intensity has been turned up somewhat as we get more intense & chopping loops, blended with textural scuttle & sear, and spaced moments of mid-range bounce & texture rip.

Next, we have Untitled 1992 Vol 2, and once more this features two tracks again- with a total disc runtime of fifty-eight minutes. We open up with the longer of the two tracks the just over forty-five minutes of  “91921mix”- this starts out with a mixture of slicing 'n' searing electro tone feast, & buzzing-to-waveringly moody feedback sweeps. By around the eleventh minute we move into sonic fields of high-end feedback sweeps, Merz-guitar crunch & scrabbing, and cascading junk clutter. By the midway point, we find bashing noise tonality meeting densely clashing junk detail- that at points nicely breaks & slows down. As we move into the last five minute we thick blend bouncing sear & forking feedback sweep & slice. Next, we have the just over thirteen & a half minutes of “19914Mix1”- here find churning, chugging, and bouncing noise tones reverberating by junk texturing & sudden swiping to wiry percussive metal hits. With the latter part have some nice spiralling high pitch bays & electro feasts added into the mix.

Lastly, on the sixth & final disc of this boxset, we have of Untitled 1991 Vol 3- this features three tracks and spot-on fifty minutes of sound. We go from “May 891 Mix” which is the longest track here at nearing twenty-two & a half minute. This opens up with blends of choppy neck bounce and baying noise sweeps, before moving onto cascading sonic corridors of scrub & clutter, before later darting back to neck picks, feedback sweeps & discordant twang.  “917Mixo1” hits just over the nineteen-minute mark- and hear we find a nice blend of spacey sweep & slice, cluttering-to- crisp textural play, and loop phaser effect. Last up we have the baby of the disc “19914mix2- For East Network” which slides in just over the nine-minute mark- here we find looped & hazed jazz loops meet sawing-to- grating noise tones, with this wonky sort of speed up waltzing feel coming into play here & there.

All told Tapestry Of Noise is a largely worthy collection of mostly unheard material from Merzbow’s classic 1990’s period- and if you are a fan of this time in his output, this is something you need to be thinking about picking up. Head here pick-up a copy direct.

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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