Merzbow, “Live at Henie Onstad Art Centre”

October 27, 2010
By Mike Wood

Even though you know what to expect from Merzbow, you can’t ignore anything he releases. This time around, there is even historical import to boot.  Recorded at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Norway, “Live at Henie Onstad Art Centre” was performed for the 2009 exhibition ”Kurt Schwitters in Norway.”  For those that need a refresher, Masami Akita has stated often that Schwitters’s odd, idiosyncratic but beautifully random Merzbau sculpture—which eventually took over all the space in his then-home—was a direct influence on his own early mindset as Merzbow.

Mastered by noise artist/label runner/video artists Lasse Marhaug, Merzbow keeps to what makes him consistently interesting even when you know what to expect.  Noise, repetitive pulses, loops and loops of hypnotic, powerful, oddly graceful power.  This is one-hour, forty-minute exploration by Akita, in a place where one of his central artistic inspirations was being celebrated.  It is hard not to wonder and try to see if you can hear any of that emotion in the piece, any traces of nostalgia or homage.  Merzbow, like Schwitters’ sculpture, is a continually evolving environment, one that is added to one piece at a time, consuming the space around it.  “Live at Henie Onstad Art Centre” is an apt soundtrack to a program of tribute, by one uncompromising artists to another.


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