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Merzbow - Animal Magnetism

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Artist: Merzbow

Album: Animal Magnetism

Label: Alien8

Review date: Aug. 27, 2003

More Noise from Dr. Doolittle

No one artist has single-handedly owned a genre the way Masami Akita has owned noise. Sure, there are young lions like the Mego posse, and the TV Pow/Boxmedia crew, but when you get down to brass tacks (lets say recorded output alone) Merzbow has them all beat. For his fifth full length this year (rough guess), Akita has focused on his love of electric guitar, primarily in the Metal field. Perhaps inspired by Kevin Drumm (dig the Olde English font that was also utilized on Drumms Sheer Hellish Miasma), and by an equal appreciation for acoustic prog (more on that later).

Opening with the title track, a sub-bass thud sets the groundwork for an effected guitar to wail away from the back row. Soon, a switch gets flipped, and everything swarms to the forefront—layers upon layers of guitar become intertwined in a pixilated wash of psychotropic sounds. It’s the perfect arena for Akita to bring in his pet chickens, which not only adorn the album’s cover, but are the featured vocalists here. He treats the chickens’ squawks with such abandon that one can make the mistake of assuming its just another guitar skree, but maybe that’s the point. Eventually his pets step away and the sub-bass thump dissolves into a throb. Twenty-one minutes later, Akita is throwing wammy bars into turbine jets; delay pedals become one with blenders, sheep in a field turn into a loop of epileptic ambience. For “Super Sheep”, Akita revisits the bass throbs and lets them stand alone before some more unruly washes of noise bully them around. Akita throws it all in the Pacific Ocean and watches it slowly resurface to deafening effects.

Closing with “Pier 39”, Akita lets an untreated acoustic guitar set the fair for this soft ride – well, soft by Merzbow standards. The guitar work could be easily mistaken for something off a Sandy Bull or Bert Jansch record. For once, it’s not the noise that’s shocking – it’s the gorgeous faire-folk.

Animal Magnetism is more proof of Merzbow’s prolific nature. Every sound treated to bloodlet innocence and expose the raw flesh and bones for all to see. Akita is truly experimental music’s answer to McGuyver.

By Stephen Sowley

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