Japan has reputation for doing things to extremes. In music, one of these extremes is to make musical noise, or some would say noise based music, and so advanced is this concept and practice in Japan that musicologist the world over now recognize "Japanese noise" as a category of music. While one may be tempted to laugh off the idea as a joke, many of the practitioners are very serious, and have elaborate ideas and philosophies behind their work. In the realm of noise, "Japanese...read more
Japan has reputation for doing things to extremes. In music, one of these extremes is to make musical noise, or some would say noise based music, and so advanced is this concept and practice in Japan that musicologist the world over now recognize "Japanese noise" as a category of music. While one may be tempted to laugh off the idea as a joke, many of the practitioners are very serious, and have elaborate ideas and philosophies behind their work. In the realm of noise, "Japanese noise" is probably the most highly regarded in the world. While Japanese noise artists have only cult status in their home country, they have intense, if small, followings worldwide, and some of them are better know internationally than top Japanese mainstream pop stars. Amongst practioners of Japanese noise, one of the leading lights is unquestionably Merzbow, essentially Masami Akita, who is sometimes joined by his wife Reiko, drummer Kiyoshi Mizutani, butoh dancers or other guests. Masami Akita was born in Tokyo in 1956, and graduated as an art major from Tamagawa University. He played guitar in rock bands, mostly playing in psychedelic and prog-rock styles. He later became interested in free jazz, and in art, especially Salvador Dali, Dada and Surrealism. This led him to begin experimenting on broken musical equipment. In recent times mostly he manipulates various types of equipment, such as recorders, reverb units, and effects pedals, with Theremin and synthesizers about as close as he gets to conventional instruments, and these mostly he plays in unconventional ways. One of his theories is that feedback is the death scream of electronics. He has also long been a freelance writer and editor, and has written several books, including The History of Bondage and Anagram of Perversion. He makes various parallels between sex and music. His interviews often include some discussion of sexual topics and his album titles include Music For Bondage Performance, Artificial Invagination, Pinkream, and Rectal Anarchy. His name comes from the work of German artist Kurt Schiwitter's "Merzbau", which he also called "The Cathedral of Erotic Misery". He considers pornography a form of pop art, and also regards it as a capitalist product. He is definitely an interesting person, and some people may enjoy his writings and interviews more than his music, which tends to be intense and brutal, although some also find beauty in it. Masami Akita began his own cassette label, Lowest Arts & Music, in 1979. He established himself as Merzbow in 1981, and since has released over a hundred albums, sometimes eight in one year, not counting collaborative work. A complete discography of his work may not exist, as he has releases from countries all over the world, often on tiny labels, some of which are only briefly in business. The Australian label Extreme once released a 50 CD box set called "Merzbox". He also has releases on the Canadian label Alien 8, and on John Zorn's Tzadik label. A Swedish label called Releasing Eskimo once rigged a Mercedes 230 with a Merzbow CD in the CD player that would play whenever the car was on and could not be turned off, and marketed this as a limited edition CD. Merzbow's work, has been written about in many, many languages, and his worldwide fanbase has allowed him to tour extensively, including shows in the US, Canada, Russia, Korea and in much of Europe. He has also collaborated with various foreign artists, amongst whom Mike Patton, formerly of Faith No More, in Maldoror. In 1998 he was the subject of a Dutch film by Ian Kekhof, Beyond Ultra Violence- Uneasy Listening by Merzbow.collapse
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czar indicated that no Kanji is used in name in February, 2009.
czar added an image in February, 2009.
czar updated the profile for Merzbow in February, 2009.
Keith Cahoon created artist page in December, 2004.
Artist page created by: Keith Cahoon
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