1998: Merzbow - “Intro”

More than any song in Merzbow’s big-beyond-comprehension discography, “Intro” is special. It is the opener on the John Zorn produced 1930, the closest thing Masami Akita’s project has to a popular album. Record stores that wouldn’t normally carry anything so noisy and abstract usually have the 1930 CD collecting dust somewhere. It’s Akita’s most popular album on Last.fm, rateyourmusic, and iTunes, and “Intro” is almost always the top song. While it may not be his “best” song — or even the album highlight — it is notable for most people as the song that displayed just what Masami Akita was capable of. It was my first exposure with Merzbow and I still remember it fondly.

At just over two and a half minutes, “Intro” is incredibly short by Akita’s standards, but it’s a perfect encapsulation of the longer form songs that follow. It plays with the shift between extreme quiet and overwhelming loudness much like the final track, “Iron, Glass, Blocks, and White Lights.” A wobbly keyboard enters near the end of the track, a tactic later taken to the extreme in the brief synth-storm that is “Munchen.” And of course there’s “Intro“‘s final build that abruptly thrusts the listener into the searing title track, easily one of the most memorable moments in Merzbow’s entire discography.

During an interview with Perfect Sound Forever in December 1997 [Word/Full Interview], the very same month 1930 was recorded, Akita claimed to use so much dissonance in his early years as a backlash against the state of conventional music. He went on to say, “now I think the reason I use a lot of noise is because… I just want to use noise for my own pleasure.” This is what you hear on 1930: an orgasmic glee in the mess of loops and sounds. It’s dissonant – that’s obvious — but once you become enveloped in Akita’s ecstatic static it is strangely intoxicating.

To the uninitiated, “Intro” is a perfect place to start. But even if you’re familiar with “all that is Merz,” try for a moment to forget everything you know and listen to the track with a fresh mind, remembering what it was like the first time this crazy bastard taught you what noise was all about.

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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