Merzbow Live Destruction at No Fun Fest 2007

[No Fun; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Japanese noise
Others: C.C.C.C., Masonna, The New Blockaders

Merzbow: love him or hate him, right? Not exactly. If you passed him off years ago after barely getting through 15 minutes of Pulse Demon, you might be surprised to find just how discriminating Merzbow fans can be. After stirring up message boards in 2007 by breaking out some vintage analog gear, Merzbow came to the year’s No Fun Fest with a more polarizing dual laptop setup. It was the typical performance you see from him these days: hardly moving a muscle in a state of monk-like meditation, or perhaps just working on a mundane spreadsheet. Either way, the sonic experience obviously suggested something much different than his minimalist stage presence, and that intense level of focus has carried over into his later albums. His chaos has gained linear sense of direction and often seems as painstakingly sculpted as a Gerhard Richter painting. This more modeled style is exemplified on the No Fun Fest disc; from its hushed speaker crackle to the infinite thresholds of sound that do its title justice, Live Destruction has an impeccable sense of dynamic and form not found in most of his contemporaries.

While I champion his recent ‘structure’ (using the term loosely), it’s certainly understandable that many long for the more harsh, uncontrolled beauty of his ‘80s and ‘90s output. It's possibly a result of the live context from which the material was taken, but in this case, Akita’s sounds lack the cleanness often lamented in his digital work. Frequencies don’t jump out of the mix as much as they collide, with lengthy stretches in which Akita doesn’t own his sound, but sits back and allows it to run its discordant course. The fidelity of a home stereo will never do his live experience justice, and while Live Destruction won’t win over people who only own one Merzbow record because Boris plays on it, as a document of No Fun Fest, it’s an important artifact not to be overlooked by whining grandpas, digital patrons, or right-wing conservatives alike.

1. Live Destruction at No Fun Fest 2007

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