A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Merzbow Monday: Merzbow – Green Wheels (Self Abuse, 1995) Album Review

Green Wheels is ’90s Merzbow at its purest – 70 minutes of dense, sprawling, relentless noise on unwieldy, cumbersome packaging.

Merzbow – Green Wheel album cover

Knowing where to start with Masami Akita’s bottomless discography is daunting. That’s 1/3 of the reason i’m even writing these Merzbow Monday reviews in the first place – just a reason to listen and explore and write about sounds, same as it ever was. This week, Green Wheels was brought to my attention by the wonderful Merzcast, which i’ve heard of for a long time but am just now getting around to checking out. The second episode finds Chondritic Sound’s Greh Holder is joined by Wolf Eyes‘ Mike Connelly and Bill Huston of clipping. to discuss Merzbow’s seminal 1995 release Green Wheels.

The trio spend a mellow 45 minutes discussing Green Wheel after listening to it, delving into the nooks and crannies of Masami Akita‘s massive back catalog and sharing personal stories of how they discovered Merzbow, and noise music in general, along the way. Memorably phrases like “noise cavern abyss” and “body warp/body wrap” get tossed out good humoredly while Holder, Connelly, and Huston try to imagine the ever-earnest Akita making the wacky “wee-ooo-ee-ooo” noises on the mic that, frankly, is just a ton of fun and a much-appreciated reminder to not take noise music – and perhaps music journalism in whole – so seriously.

Their memoirs of getting into noise via a yen for free jazz and modern classical music, having a disposable income from working at a video store, and a quest for ever more extreme music will likely resonate with any holdovers from the 90s noise scene, when you’d pillage used record stores like LA or San Francisco’s Amoeba Records or Chicago’s Reckless Records for obscure used noise CDs for $5. It was a special time that yielded probably more shit than gold. But those gems, those moments of sonic epiphany, become arc-welded to one’s nervous system.

those moments of sonic epiphany become arc-welded to one’s nervous system.

Listening to Green Wheels automatically catapults you back to the realm of pure sonic exploration. Despite it being a rather popular and well-known release, i’d never sat down with its 3 marathon album trucks with the 2 slight tracks on the accompanying 5″ vinyl. Not only does listening to Green Wheels take you back, it also reminds of the sheer joy of writing about such open-ended, exploratory music. I found myself making comparisons to industrial showrooms more than Western tonality, with a fair bit of wild-eyed starry wisdom thrown in for garnish.

Green Wheels is Merzbow at his purest, most refined, most unrestrained. Album kicks in with the ridiculously monikered “Myo-Inositolasanessentia Growthfactorforhumancellsin Testosteronepropionate Anabolicaction” blasting off with some of Akita’s trademarked harsh wind, with accompanying gravel landslide. It starts out burying the needle and never relents, There is none of the minimalism of his early 80s work or the more austere conceptualism of more recent works. It’s just full throttle, throughout.

This also makes it a nice catalog of so many of Merzbow’s classic noise moves and techniques – the sucking vacuum noises, the divebombing digital klaxons, the rolling tumbling scraping industrial percussion and metal machinery, all of which is expertly recorded and mixed, hot and bright as burnished steel beneath a desert sun.

The final result left me thinking of the end of 2001: A Space Oddyssey, when Dave departs the Solar system and meets the starchild. Concrete mixers and rock tumblers approximate consciousness being scrubbed as time goes loopy as light speed is approached, then surpassed.

Be advised, Green Wheels is an intense, daunting listen. You will feel cleansed, once the granite landslide quiets. It’s like psychic liposuction, removing all fears and doubts and insecurities and, well, everything really. Perfect thing for a Monday morning!

Fun Fact: Green Wheels takes it name from a Kurt Schwitters poem, “Eve”, the creator of the Merzbau.

Oh thou, beloved of my twenty-seven senses, I love thine! Thou thee thee thine, I thine, thou mine, we? That (by the way) is beside the point!

Who art thou, uncounted woman, Thou art, art thou? People say, thou werst, Let them say, they don’t know what they are talking about.

Thou wearest thine hat on thy feet, and wanderest on thine hands, On thine hands thou wanderest

Hallo, thy red dress, sawn into white folds, Red I love eve Blossom, red I love thine, Thou thee thee thine, I thine, thou mine, we? That (by the way) belongs to the cold glow! eve Blossom, red eve Blossom what do people say?

PRIZE QUESTION: 1. eve Blossom is red, 2. eve Blossom has wheels 3. what colour are the wheels?

Blue is the colour of your yellow hair, Red is the whirl of your green wheels, Thou simple maiden in everyday dress, Thou small green animal, I love thine! Thou thee thee thine, I thine, thou mine, we? That (by the way) belongs to the glowing brazier!

eve Blossom, eve, E – V – E, E easy, V victory, E easy, I trickle your name. Your name drops like soft tallow. Do you know it, eve? Do you already know it? One can also read you from the back And you, you most glorious of all, You are from the back as from the front, E-V-E. Easy victory. Tallow trickles to strike over my back eve Blossom, Thou drippy animal, I— Love – Thine! I love you!!!!

Many thanks to Merzcast for pointing me in the direction of Green Wheels. HIGHLY recommend checking out this excellent podcast if you’re a fan of Merzbow or noise music in general!

Episode 2: Green Wheels by MERZCAST


Merzcast Patreon

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