By: Gareth Watkin
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Released on September 30, 2016 via Oaken Palace Records
Dedicated to (and named after) the Kakapo, a flightless parrot native to New Zealand, whose numbers have sadly been diminishing over the past years, Godfather of noise Masami Akita or Merzbow offers another heavy album for those who not only have a desire to listen to music that is as challenging as it can possibly be, but also support a worthy cause. With all proceeds going to the Kakapo Recovery Trust, Merzbow’s latest work is one with a very noble intention, though ultimately another quintessential Merzbow experience, where a constant barrage of highly aggressive noise bombards and assaults the listener with little regard for their capacity to sustain such an arduous experience.
Those familiar with Merzbow’s body of work will no doubt know of his very prolific techniques. Kakapo features many of the now familiar elements that clearly define what it is that Merzbow creates. Across the two tracks, a manic and utterly chaotic world is built up, one where everything becomes oddly confusing and surreal, until one reaches a point where the music occupies that background, and a sense of normalcy is can almost paradoxically be achieved, where beneath those extreme layers of furious noise, there’s an odd sense of calm. Until of course you become aware of the music once again, and then it’s all bang, clatter and crash.
Fans of Merzbow will probably enjoy Kakapo as it is essentially Merzbow and nothing else right? We’re presented with that challenging unrelenting noise that is oddly perfect for harsh immersion. Diehard fans could perhaps be critical of the album’s length, as roughly 33 minutes is oddly short for a Merzbow release, and perhaps not enough time to really get fully immersed in. It feels though that technical aspects of Kakapo are perhaps irrelevant, with the larger picture being the preservation of a now endangered species, and not what is actually being purchased.
Of course Kakapo will appeal only to those select few, but those select few who do enjoy Merzbow’s work will be essentially donating money to a cause that Masami Akita feels very strongly for. As a body of work, there’s certainly something interesting at foot here, with the format of vinyl offering an interesting element of a rest between sides one and two (a rest being mostly absent on Merzbow albums released on CD). Kakapo is certainly an extreme album, which is what anyone would expect from Merzbow, though one that envelopes the listener into a completely different mindset that no other music really places one in. Perhaps therein lies the appeal of Merzbow.