Few noise artists are noisier than Masami Akita
, who has recorded under the name Merzbow
since 1979. Some of his albums actually border on the assaultive, and though they are often sonically interesting, it's rare that a Merzbow
album can reasonably be called enjoyable. So this 12-disc set comes as a surprise on several levels. It consists of recordings Akita
made during the late '80s and early '90s, and although the title suggests that the music might be "ambient," that's only in comparison to the nearly injurious raucousness of his other work during the last two decades. In fact, the music collected in this box is generally still fairly abrasive, but nevertheless listenable and sometimes fascinating. Each disc contains one or two long tracks (the discs generally clock in at roughly 46 minutes), and most tracks are identified only by obscure acronyms or abbreviations ("Violin Solo 89" being a notable exception). The music is consistently identifiable as a Merzbow
product, but there's a lot of sonic and textural variation: the single long track that makes up disc six consists mainly of whitish noise that slowly mutates in a nearly meditative fashion and is then followed by a period of quiet percussion sounds; the first track on disc eight is a hash of nasty-sounding guitar malfunctions (and is frankly kind of fun, not a word you'll normally encounter in a Merzbow
review); disc four is comprised of metallic clangs of varying timbres and volume, with the occasional sine wave making a slowly whooping appearance. But the most interesting disc in this set is probably the third one, which delivers a wild sound salad of drones, feedback, cries of tormented tropical birds, subtle incursions of wanky heavy metal guitar histrionics, and brief periods of rockish drumming. The box itself is a thing of loveliness, as Soleilmoon releases so often are: it is ornamented with lushly colorful photographs from what appears to be a horticultural/reptilian park.