- The noise icon collaborates with Lawrence English and Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart.
- Masami Akita once said of his own music that, "if music was sex, Merzbow would be pornography." In a way, though, Merzbow is the other side of pornography—the reservoir of inhumanity that lies behind the scenes, in the faceless corporations and algorithmic search processes that define internet-age sex work. In lieu of conventional instrumentation, Akita uses metals, fuzz boxes and noise pedals in the systematic erasure of anything remotely human. If there's an erotic component to his sound, it's an erotics of suffering. (The name "Merzbow" comes from the Merzbau of the German artist Kurt Schwitters, collectively referred to as the "Cathedral Of Erotic Misery.") For almost 40 years, Akita has been sculpting harsh noise into works that test our psychological limits, expanding our definitions of "music" with each new release.
On Achromatic, Akita collaborates with Room40 founder Lawrence English and Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart, known together as HEXA. It's a Merzbow album first and foremost, reveling in the sort of ear-splitting static that made Akita an international noise icon. But the presence of English and Stewart tempers his aggressive tendencies. By introducing elements of ambient and drone, the trio molds chaotic fractals into deliberate geometries. On "Merzhex Part 4," an isolated swooping sound pierces the harshness at regular intervals, providing an idea of order, or a lighted path through the noisy darkness. "Merzhex Part 2" takes pulsating motes of noise through a periodic rise and fall, eventually giving way to pure, windy ambient. There's a discernable shape to these sounds that makes Achromatic a relatively temperate Merzbow release.
"Hexamer," the last of five tracks, is an 18-minute epic that defies characterization. Moving from industrial darkness into bright, shimmering electronics (à la Pulse Demon) and back again, "Hexamer" showcases Merzbow and HEXA at their most flexible. Distinct geometries remain intact, though shapes seem to be formed and reformed ad infinitum. On previous Merzbow releases, blocks of noise would crack and shift under their own weight, exposing negative space that punctuated the waveforms with silence. "Hexamer" works with a single, unbroken stream of sound, traversing stylistic registers without yielding to those silent partitions. Most people don't want to listen to music intended to punish. But for those who do, Merzbow and HEXA offer a slice of sound art at its most extreme.
01. Merzhex Part 1
02. Merzhex Part 2
03. Merzhex Part 3
04. Merzhex Part 4