forestpunk

A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Merzbow Monday: Merzbow – Triwave Pagoda (Elevator Bath) album review

The old meets the new; the sacred meets the profane on Triwave Pagoda, an excellent new noise cassette from Merzbow on Elevator Bath.

Merzbow – Triwave Pagoda (Elevator Bath)

Masami Akita‘s love for junk is no secret – the Merzbow name is practically synonymous with crude white noise generators; fried oscillators; crude metal sculptures and assemblage; or any manner of other noisemakers you might find at the junk shop down the road. This often leads to a stereotype of Merzbow as the proto-noisebro, hunched over his blistering static machines and screaming feedback generators. Merzbow doesn’t restrict himself to stereotypical noise machines, though. Anything archaic or obsolete is fair game for assimilation into the Merzchine. 

In the case of Triwave Pagoda that machine is the 4ms Triwave Picogenerator, a hand-built tone generator and signal processor. Boomkat’s write-up mentions the influential early electronic soundtrack of Forbidden Planet, with its eerie radiophonic sirens and echoes paired with alien musique concrete rumbles. Triwave Pagoda‘s raw square waves brings to mind the early digital Atari soundchips which gives the two longform sound sculptures on display the feeling of an exorcism taking place in an early 80s Radio Shack – provided it was packed full of concrete mixers and run through the carwash after the fact. 

Triwave Pagoda‘s raw square waves brings to mind the early digital Atari soundchips which gives the two longform sound sculptures on display the feeling of an exorcism taking place in an early 80s Radio Shack – provided it was packed full of concrete mixers and run through the carwash after the fact. 

It is telling that each writeup for Triwave Pagoda conjures a different setting. Soundohm references shooting comets and interstellar travel before pivoting to mention the hallowed ground of the titular pagoda. The mixture of the holy and the profane, of the earthy and the cosmic, leave you with the sensation of some ancient rite taking place in some hidden temple, which is packed full of CRT monitors and rack upon rack of obscure, arcane gadgetry.

Of course, someone noodling around with an analog synth isn’t exactly groundbreaking, even if it is Merzbow. Have no fear, though, Masami Akita is better than that. The Picowave Generator’s drones, groans, klaxons, and meteoric Shepard tones are further layered with imbecilic post-industrial detritus – static and a vacuum-like pulse – which swim in and out of focus. 

The end result is like some jungle car wash exorcism where you swing by the temple where a monk shopvacs your bad vibes. Which is something we all can use in these tumultuous and stressful times!

Triwave Pagoda is out now on digital and cassette via Elevator Bath

Triwave Pagoda by Merzbow

Welcome to Merzbow Monday, where most weeks we post reviews or content related to the vast, nearly endless catalog of Masami Akita, aka Merzbow. Got a particular favourite Merzbow release you’d like to see covered on Merzbow Monday? Let us know in the comments or get in touch via Twitter!

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