Review Summary: Merzbear is a shining achievement that is as chilling as it is emotional, as scathing as it is listenable, and most importantly, completely interesting.
Merzbow, the alias of Japanese musician Masami Akita, has almost been set up for failure. Combine Merzbow's prolific nature and several decades in the music industry, and you get nearly inevitable stagnancy. Oftentimes bands reinvent what they've done to prevent this tragic occurrence; other times, bands move on to completely different styles than their previous work(s). However, Merzbow has strayed from both paths of renewal and decided to make minor alterations to his patented. recurring noise sound. These minor alterations are no new feat for Akita however, as he has been combining noise and other styles of music for years. Case in point, Merzbeat
saw Akita taking the combination of rock and noise to more notable extremes. Venereology
saw Akita experimenting with denser variants of these sinister, scathing noises. The outcome: cacophonous tracks that utilize the infamous “wall-of-sound” technique. The concept that rings true on earlier releases like Pulse Demon
does not translate on Merzbear
, thus proving the point that Akita is constantly expanding upon the foundations of noise music.
For example, the foundations shown on Merzbear
have been long in the making. Beats that were once just minimal inclusions are now becoming more evident in Merzbow's sound. Bass lines are now not only being expanded upon, but becoming part of the thick, boisterous soundscapes that make up Merzbear
. In some cases, a destructive bass line may conflict electric, carefree bleeps and bloops to illustrate the album's concept: Animals should be respected. Protesting against treating three-dimensional, complex creatures as second-class citizens has always been associated with Akita, but he's never really let the message take form aurally. Plagued by seemingly uninspired, one-dimensional sound, the works Akita's created that deal with such themes have come out shallow. Again, Merzbow alters the foundation he built to create a release that shows all sides of nature. This augments the value of the theme behind his work. By doing so, he's brought the bestial society to life. He's illustrated the dangers of these wild creatures with his terrifying electronic squeals, distorted rhythms, discordant, jumpy dissonance, and so on and so forth. On the flip side, said animated bleeps and bloops show the playful, energetic, youthful spirits that are in such stark contrast to the malevolent beasts. If such layered, rumbling music is so emotionally-based and experimental, then it should be equally interesting. Never one to disappoint, Akita delivers intriguing soundscapes for those looking for a cantankerous experience. Boisterous noise is captured within the four tracks present on Merzbear
, and it does not only show the ongoing progress of Merzbow, but it shows the evolution of the genre as a whole. Certainly not the best of the genre, Merzbear
is just the groundwork for better releases in the future. However, it doesn't disappoint by any means. In fact, it is a shining achievement that is as chilling as it is emotional, as scathing as it is listenable, and most importantly, completely interesting. Merzbear
is a fantastic musical fare that proves that the smallest things make the largest of changes.