As the Northern Hemisphere enters spring, Masami Akita, aka Merzbow, has already managed to put out a number of records. One of them, which sort of slipped passed us, is Aodron, released by Seattle’s Automation Records in January this year. It’s published on a pretty blue digipak, though true to the age a digital download is also to be had for almost the same price (which is good – buy your music physically if you can).
To speak of “classic Merzbow” makes no sense what so ever, for obvious reasons, but it might make sense to speak of classic harsh noise Merzbow. Aodron offers five long, complex tracks of dense, layered and highly experimental harsh noise, which can withstand far more than one listen and remain interesting. From the slightly melodic, almost intro-like “Ao Part 1” to the radical fuzz and feedback slaughterhouse of “Tetsu TO” and the heavy violence of closing track “Melo”, this is harsh noise at its very finest.
While feedback, distortion and fuzz are at the core of the compositions, there are other nuances to take into consideration. Many noises are rather sounds than conventional noise, with only the general noise violence keeping the psychedelic feeling at bay. Junk abuse and heavily maltreated synthesizer sounds add further flesh to the totality.
In a genre where increasingly limited cassette releases and free downloads have become the two poles of reference (we get to invent expressions – language is a living thing, yada-yada), it is refreshing to sit down with a proper noise album. Aodron is solid from beginning to end, and never feels amateurish or streamlined. Putting it another way, Merzbow’s many decades of experience have not turned his non-music stale or repetitive, nor made him accessible or commercially viable (which, in the case of industrial and noise music, are usually negative things). Rather, the years have served to help Masami Akita perfect his craft. There is so much going on while you listen to this album that it’s hard to take it all in, even in a couple of sittings.
Aodron is a reminder that skilfully crafted harsh noise is actually pretty fucking great, and if you feel you need such a reminder, you should just pick it up at once.