Merzbow – Rattus Rattus

I have to admit that I’m not a great admirer of noise, especially not of ‘japanoise’. Harsh industrial acts can bring me some kind of destructive satisfaction, but when comes to totally chaotic, unstructured sound-madness: I rather get away from it. I must also admit that I don’t even believe that there are people who like noise musically. They might have some sound-art fetish, or maybe there are those who think the projects are interesting or fascinating, but you must be one hell of a moron (sorry girls and boys) listening to song after song for musical enjoyment. Hearing noise is just physically unattractive: it rapes your eardrums in a very unpleasant way. Maybe I’m going a little too far here, but at least you have an idea of my credibility as a noise-reviewer.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe Merzbow’s Masami Akita was even earlier active as a noise creator than Peter Sotos or William Bennet of the infamous Whitehouse. Merzbow started out 1979, with a first release in 1982 (A little later than Boyd Rice’s self titled lp, which appeared in 1977). Since the birth of Merzbow, Akita has released around 300(!) separate recordings. He even fabricated a 50-cd-box. Calculated: about twelve releases every year, which makes one a month. This makes Akita presumably the most prolific ‘musician’ of all times.

This release called ‘Rattus Rattus’ is absolutely maniacal. I saw a documentary on the effects of ‘tweaking’ (long term methamfetamine-use) lately, and this is a perfect soundtrack to it. Meth or ‘crank’ (with an ‘n’) is a substance made of various chemicals, such as battery-acid and ammonia. What makes this release japanoise, are the totally out of control noise bursts, collapsing structures of high-and low-pitched sounds, sounds of voltages that are shrieking, yelling, screaming. As if the brain is poisoned and giving out heavily distorted signals. This record is absolutely not monotonous, and after two times listening, there is even a structure to discover in the chaotic madness of torturing sounds. Irritating frequencies sound as if ‘meth bugs’ (hallucinogenic illusions) are crawling underneath your skin, pursuing their craze for food, eventually eating your brain. Three tracks long.

It might be clear that listening to this release is not a pleasant experience, but I guess that’s not the point of Merzbow’s radical assault. I must say that it can be fun listening to this release, just to enjoy the pleasure of the extreme, only not longer then, let’s say, ten minutes. And if you are a music collector, you must at least have a record of the highest extreme in underground music in your collection, which might well be: ‘Rattus Rattus’.

artist: Merzbow
label: Scarcelight Recordings
details: 3 tracks, 50 min, 2005 [SLR40]