Merzbow - Lowest Music 2 LP


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Label: Urashima

Our Review:

Lowest Music 2 is a very early recording from the master of Japanese noise, Masami Akita / Merzbow. It was originally constructed on "very cheap equipment" in 1982, released on cassette Akita's Lowest Music & Arts (the precursor his more well known ZSK Produkt). He remixed / reprised the material in 1990 for a cassette on Extreme, who later incorporated this on the legendary Merzbox.

Way back when, one foolish employee at Aquarius (FYI, Jim is now happily working for Stranded) embarked on a project of reviewing every disc in the Merzbox while perched behind the counter at the shop. Here is the review from that intrepid bit of gonzo journalism from 2000: "This has got to be a collaboration. I sort of feel like I'm playing the Wire's Invisible Jukebox ... trying to guess who the collaborator must be. After listening to all of the previous discs, I've gotten a pretty good idea as to what the sonic intentions of Merzbow are and what his voice is. Disc Twelve (yeah, I've still resisted the urge to break the hermetic seal on the book) has another presence in the tape. I know that there's a wealth of collaborative efforts from Merzbow including work with Christoph Heemann and Achim Wollscheid. It definitely not the Heemann piece as that one is quite beautiful, but it could be the Wollscheid one. However, this sounds much more like a really early Come Organisation production with William Bennett's lo-fi tape loop mantras, rather than the Wollscheid's hyper cerebral / neo-musique concrete. I didn't think that anyone from Come Organisation did anything with Merzbow. Steven Stapleton would be another guess, but it's too crappy a production from Stapleton's baroque dadaism... and furthemore I don't think that he did anything with Merzbow (did he?). Another guess would be Richard Rupenus / Bladder Flask, but it's too orderly for both parties involved. So, I'll shrug my shoulders and say that this is quite the spartan production for Mr. Merzbow."

Jump 16 years later, this review holds up to the descriptive rhetoric, but the underlying argument of this recording being a collaboration is entirely wrong. It's not a collaborative body of work but a sole Merzbow construction of nearly self-immolating tape-loops of wildly fluttered varispeed, chopped vocal utterances, overdriven amplification, and bit of caustic freedback, with the tape mechanisms getting all fucked around with during the recording and playback. More Fluxus than the brute noise that came to dominate the Merzbow aesthetic from the late '80s onward. The version featured on the Urashima edition is a remastered edit of the original Lowest Music & Arts cassette.