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Posts Tagged ‘noise’

Most people outside of the Industrial/Noise/Experimental scene have never heard of Merzbow. As someone once said “that’s a hard sell.”

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Masami Akita started the Merzbow project back in 1979. His style of music, or rather, anti-music combines distortion, feedback, and noises from synthesizers, machinery,  home-made noisemakers, with help from laptops. Due to his background in drumming, unlike other avant garde Noise musicians, Merzbow blends slight melody and rhythm into his aural assaults.

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Masami Akita started out as a traditional drummer and studied art at Tamagawa University. According to his Wikipedia page: “While at university, he became interested in the ideas of dada and surrealism and also studied Butoh dance.[8] At Tamagawa, he learned of Kurt Schwitters‘ Merz, or art made from rubbish, including Schwitters’ Merzbau (meaning Merz building, German pronunciation: [ˈmɛʁtsˌbaʊ̯]), which is the source of the name Merzbow.[9]” 

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Breaking away from Psychedelic Rock and Free Jazz, Akita’s style evolved over time. Mostly known for Noise Electronics, he’s collaborated with various other avant garde musicians such as Z’EV. Over time he’s been influenced by Grindcore and Death Metal, but later incorporated Psychedelia and Ambient styles into the mix. The tools he’s used also changes over time. Again from his Wikipedia page, “Starting in the mid-2000s, Masami Akita began to reintroduce junk metal and effects pedals back into his setup. By the early 2010s, he was using a large number of pedals, oscillators and tone generators, and reduced to a single laptop running granular synthesis software. In 2014, he toured without a laptop. In 2008, Akita reintroduced the drum kit, his first instrument. This can be heard on the 13 Japanese Birds series.”

In addition to his multiple releases, Akita has been involved in numerous music/noise side projects.

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Akita is known for advocating animal rights. He’s supported PETA while maintaining a vegan diet. In Japan he’s also a published editor, writer and author. Merzbow’s articles has documented music, underground/subcultures, and modern art,. Other articles spoke about BDSM and Japanese bondage. Akita’s other interests include painting, photography, filmmaking, and Butoh dance.

I finally had a chance to see him perform in 2015. The venue sold out of advance tickets, taking place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Output (since closed). Genesis P-Orridge opened for him, doing a spoken word set. (Gen also walked on stage during Merzbow’s set for no reason, except to stand there with arms raised. Then quickly rushed off as quickly as S/he rushed on. Completely random.) There was another chance to see him over at Knockdown Center two years ago, but my schedule wouldn’t allow it.

Here’s a quick sketch I did last night. Hand drawn, pen and ink. Now that I have all this extra time due to the Coronavirus.

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Masami Akita, aka Merzbow. Pen and ink, hand drawn. Sketch by Michele Witchipoo, March 2020.

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This has been a happy, productive time for me. The book I did six illustrations for, Tales of Woe finally saw the light of day! Written by John Reed, it’s published by MTV Press and distributed by Powerhouse Books. Apparently this book has already gotten great reviews. You can buy the book here, here, or here.

Another two of my illustrations have also been published in Worlds Beyond. That one is more of a quasi-pulp anthology, published by Comicbook Artist Guild, otherwise known as CAG. The genre is Sci-fi/Horror.

I’m back doing the webcomic with writer John Reed titled Shitty Mickey. The fourth episode is up now.

Finally, I have a table in the Artist Alley section of the New York Comic Con 2010 (NYCC 2010). Yay! Other comic con appearances I had within this year have all turned out to be successful. My table at the Mocca Art Fest 2010 was the best ever.

I’m working on other projects, although that’s been coming along slow…slow…slow…not finished as I would have hoped, but it’ll get there.

My Facebook group has more members: facebook comic con/michele witchipoo.

Surprisingly, I’ve kept up regularly this blog promoting myself, in regards with my art/comics/illustrations, comic cons, appearances, interviews, etc. Occasionally, I’ve rambled with what’s been on my mind, observations, and whatnot. Yeah, all that good stuff. After all, on the internet, everyone and anyone has an opinion about everything. Then again, as the saying goes; opinions are like (fill in the blank), everyone’s got one.

What do I know? My political beliefs are half Democratic and half Libertarian. Never a Republican though. Republicans can go kiss my big fat white ass.

Finally, I’m back in school after so, so, so many years. Yeah, its kinda odd, but I’m going back to college really for myself. Let’s face it, the art world, no matter what field, can be pretty snobby. They still wanna see a degree somewhere. Not that I ever cared about what people think, but still. In a rare moment of candidness, I’ll admit the regret of not doing well in school. During elementary and some parts of junior high, I was a decent pupil. Somewhere along the way, rebellion kicked in. Aggravated by the general ignorance of my peers, not ‘fitting in,’ and later on, not wanting to ‘fit in.’ I developed into a perpetual truant. Ironically, when I would cut out of school, it was spent going to museums, reading sub-cultural literature, exploring new places, films, and all that nonsense. Therefore in a way, I believe I would consider myself self-taught in some subjects. Well, somewhat self-taught, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

My interest in learning was reignited when I discovered, let’s say ‘alternative spirituality.’ Been reading tarot cards for years. One day decided to dive head first into esoteric practices. I went on a few different paths like Wicca, Thelema, Chaos Magick, Gnosticism, Theosophy, Eastern Philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoruba, what-have-you. My conclusion: it’s all the same crap people. Anyway, I realized that as much as I self-taught myself some things, there was also a case of ‘stunted growth.’ I went from thinking I knew it all to realizing I barely knew jack shit. As I quote Robert Anton Wilson…“If you think you know what the hell is going on, you’re probably full of shit.”

So…long story short, I’m back in college for myself. Starting from the beginning too, ’cause I sucked as a student from way back when. However, those are the consequences. Then again, the past is the past. I didn’t have the drive back then as I do now, so things have a way of working themselves out. Although I feel tinges of feeling as if I’m back in high school, and slight bouts of misanthropy, I’m enjoying myself. One of my plans is to separate my school work from my so-called online/comicbook/illustrator/artist persona. Feel its better this way. Having said that, this will be the last time I will mention school within any my online social networking sites.

The only thing that’s missing now is maybe a band. Would like to form a post-Industrial/Electronica/Power-Electronics/Noise/Neo-folk band. Well maybe.

Here’s an illo I did last summer, with a school theme. Enjoy:

Monster In The School Library

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