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Merzbow - Animal Liberation - Until Every Cage Is Empty [Cold Spring - 2022]

Animal Liberation - Until Every Cage Is Empty is a new five-track album from japanoise legend Merzbow. It’s a release that managers to blend highly rewarding & densely seared noise craft, with compelling layer detail, and feel of both angered rage & felt emotion- making it one of the more consistent and wholly rewarding releases to appear from the king of noise in some years.

The album is put out by the long-running and highly respected UK label Cold Spring. It appears in the form of a CD, which is presented in bleak black and white digipak, whose artwork very much nods towards the Anarcho-punk of the late 1970s/ early 80s. The front cover features a picture of a caged battery hen with crude stencilled white texts surrounding it. Inside, and on the back, we get stark pictures of other caged farm animals, with black rips running through their pictures. So, a simple yet very effective bit of packaging.

As the album's title/ artwork suggests the theme here is animal liberation. The five tracks each last between five and fourteen-minute mark- and throughout there is a real feeling of focused and never overindulgent noise composition present. With none of the tracks ever outstay their welcome, and the whole album working as both compelling & at points emotionally affecting harsh noise release.

Proceedings are kicked off with “No Cages Part 1”. This begins with a mixture of churning & greyed low-end noise- very quickly this is topped by spiralling swirls of forking waver and screaming bay. As we progress one can make out bashing and cluttering junk noise swim, and these are often roastingly weaved by both raging and emotional pitch bends.

By “No Cages Part 3” we have a caustically vivid mixture of smashing bowling pin roll, sour whine ‘n’ bay, shredding junk cascades, Merz guitar scaping, and synth tone roast- with at moments one almost hearing the amassed pained squawks of caged poultry. The album is finished off by “Baby Bird”-this opens with metal loop churn meets piecing sear ‘n’ shred.  In the track's last few minutes, we find glitch ‘n’ stench electro tone break down, which is underfed by sped up muzak and thickly pulled out mid to lower tone swoons.

It certainly is great to hear Merzbow back at the top of his noise craft with this album. As Animal Liberation - Until Every Cage Is Empty, is both a focused and entrancing release which perfectly mixes and balances rewarding noise craft with seared creativity and emotional impactfulness. To pick up a copy directly from the label go here.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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