Album Review: Merzbow – “Takahe Collage” Part 2

Merzbow - "Takahe Collage"
Merzbow – “Takahe Collage”


The second track from Merzbow’s “Takahe Collage”,”Tendeko,” is a bit different in its plan than the album opener. The titular song works really well as an introduction as there is quite a bit to grab on to. This track, however, is a bit more stable and fixed. That is not to say that there certainly aren’t some exceedingly interesting elements throughout.

Just as with the previous track we have some introductory material that lasts for about the first 20 seconds. The steady white noise backdrop is introduced and about another 20 seconds after that the sound spectrum begins to widen, and once again Merzbow is making use of a low pulsation, though this time around it is not quite as prominent. Pitch material also doesn’t seem to be playing quite as important a role in “Tendeko.” We are given what I would refer to as “open” and “closed” sounds.

By using the terms “open” and “closed” I’m referring to the overall shape of the soundwaves where sounds that I would consider to be “open” would be those that have more frequencies appearing at the outer edges of the spectrum (highs and lows but no middle) whereas closed sounds would have frequencies more clustered toward the middle of the sound spectrum. These sounds could be produced using something as simple as a bandpass filter, or a guitar wah pedal.

There is a much higher degree of stasis throughout “Tendeko,” and it doesn’t initially appear to be broken into large sections. There are occasions where thin, high pitched sounds will suddenly erupt from the stasis, while there are other times (around 9:50, for example) where regular beats develop and remain and become significant. This part in the track is alive with variation, Akita is heard to be clearly playing with beats and at the 11:30 mark seems to turn the entire track around on itself. The layer of stasis is stripped away, but not in the same way that it was in the opening track. This is a more gradual process, introducing new sounds rather than cutting everything away at once.

At about the 7:35 mark a quick thinning of the texture allows a brief descending arpeggiated sound to come toppling down, before it is swallowed up by the deep sea of distortion that remains underneath the entire song as a sort of support structure. When a sine wave is introduce at around 13:30 it leaps across frequencies, slicing through the ground layer from top to bottom and becoming a prominent element for a large duration.

Something resembling a vintage synth sound enters ever so briefly during a period where the percussive sounds are made more obvious with more crisp attacks rather than simple pulsations. That synth sound remains as a high pitched rapid rhythm and all that is beneath it is stripped away until we are left only with it and the percussive attacks. Eventually the rapid fire high register rhythm flatlines before it begins bouncing across several octaves, the percussive sounds disappearing suddenly with siren type sounds that come from below.

Standing in significant contrast to that of “Takahe Collage,” “Tendeko” exercises a greater use of stasis and shifting levels of textural density. Larger sections of the piece are less apparent in this track than its predecessor, though the latter half introduces a significant number of changes in sound, though not each introduced as parts of what I would think to call new sections. Rather it seems as though the stasis of the first half is drastically contrasted in the 2nd half with increasingly wild sonic gesticulations. There clearly is a different approach to this song, and the way that the sounds are organized and paced throughout the track are evidence of that.

The third and final part in this series will appear tomorrow and discusses the closing track on the album, “Grand Owl Habitat.”