If you have any press coverage of Misanthropic Agenda releases that does not currently appear in this archive, please submit it so that we can make the website as comprehensive as possible. Thanks...
Sissy Spacek
press pack (.pdf download)
photo 1 (high-res)
photo 2 (low-res, Evan Parker holding a copy of the "Scissors" CD)
press pack (.pdf download)
newspaper clipping
live photo 1 (live pictures by Derek Morton)
live photo 2
Bastard Noise
photo 1
photo 1
John Wiese + Gerritt
photo 1
Sissy Spacek "Glass" CD
The Wire #304
Recorded under the name Sissy Spacek as a duo with Corydon Ronnau, Glass is similarly restless, though the palette is more restricted. It's an exercise in defamiliarisation. On the first track, the sound of broken glass is sampled then bent out of shape - pitchshifted, processed and scattered across the stereo field, severing sound from referent. The second track is more brutish, recorded in mono and riven with feedback. The duo seem able to trap the frequencies, cancelling others out. It's an idea of some vintage - the sounds of destruction used constructively - but Wiese and Ronnau execute it with brio.
Wiese is without doubt one of the finest noise artists working today. He cuts through the bullshit that surrounds the genre - the "transgressive" branding, the macho posturing - and concentrates on evolving an articulate and nuanced sonic vocabulary. In his hands noise is not a political statement, or a decadent anti-music, but a potent compositional tool. - Nick Richardson
Jason Crumer "Walk With Me" CD
Anti-Gravity Bunny
I must be a serious fucking idiot. I first heard Walk With Me about 3 months ago and became instantly obsessed. I felt about this like I felt about last year's And Still, Wanting by Prurient. It was love at first punishment. But the weeks went by and I stopped listening to it as much and I still hadn't blogged about it. I think I went almost a month without listening to it again and when I finally stumbled across it on my iPod Monday night, I almost punched myself in the face for not reviewing it yet.

Walk With Me is the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. You think it's sweet old grandma at first but it's not. Sorry little girl but it's a wolf. Which is great for me because it pleases both of my sensitive and masochistic sides.

The contrast on this album is what makes it. The light and the dark. The docile and the sadistic. Anyone can make a nonstop ear fuck but Crumer must have taken notes from Mogwai with their near-patented loud-quiet-loud method. It's like Walk With Me is saying, "Look at me I'm a pretty little Max Richter princess wait no I'm a motherfucking Merzbow demon whose sole purpose is to tear your lungs out through your chest and shit on your fucking heart."

And the final two songs on this masterpiece flow together in such a beautifully disastrous way, it brings a tear to my eye and a drop of blood from my ears. "Walk With Me" starts out with an unwavering Niblockian buzz that slowly accelerates down the runway until it gains enough speed to take off and becomes a fleet of twin engine Cessnas flying in perfect formation. After dazzling the audience with their majestic skillz, one of them fucks up and crashes into another, sending them all careening into a fiery spiral on "Pining" where they explode on the ground in a massive mountain of molten metal. Fucking epic.

Jason Crumer has scrambled right up to the top of the noise ladder in my heart, sitting right next to Prurient. I knew that I'd eventually find my noise record of the year but I had no idea it would come from a guy I'd never heard of. Now I sit patiently and wait for him to come to Boston...

Signal to Noise
Consider Oakland, California's Jason Crumer a noise ninja. His compositions sneak up on you, all stealth-like, then pounce. One minute, you're pressing play and waiting for some scrap of sound to float into aural view. Next, your attention wanders somewhat. Then you realize - all of a sudden - that Crumer's electronic rig is kicking your poor cerebelem about like a two-toned Hacky-Sack. Relative to the lack of structural logic guiding this dude's other projects - the unfortunately-named Facedowninshit, most notably - his approach to solo ventures has been almost painting-angels-on-pinheads fastidious. Jason Crumer doesn't shower the underground with oodles of sloppy, poorly mastered CD-Rs; he patiently perfects masterpieces. From What Is Love's bulldozer ying/psychic torment yang to Hum of an Imagined Environment's massaging pressure-scour rinses to Ottoman Black's cracked peanut-brittle doom, Crumer has more than proven himself as a ear-jerking artisan.

Walk With Me ups the ante, dealing discernable instrumentation and loops into the mix. "Perfect Comfort" begins with what sounds like the soft pppt-pppt-pppt of an army of lawn sprinkers, releasing precise jets of water at regular intervals. Soon enough, though, those squirts take on a blurred, distorted cast - it's as if we focussed in too closely on a color snapshot, and the image collapsed into meaninglessness - and a treated clamor of struck-gong clangs takes charge and leads us over the edge. Baroque "Luscious Voluptuous Pregnant" - love the smirk in that title - bobs and dips along according to some underlying oceanic logic, dark piano chords heaving, fading, and multiplying endlessly (and eventually) in string-section reverb shallows and jagged, distorted fissures. Elsewhere, "Pining" suggests a dying star collapsing in on itself in perpetuity, or the experience of a fearsome fireworks display stuck in visual repeat: a formidable compliment of horn blats piping in concert and in competition, slowly drawn down - and drawing us with it - into a canyon of the damned that quickly reveals itself as the mouth of an especially aggreived volcano. -Raymond Cummings

Sissy Spacek "Remote Whale Control" CD
Vital Weekly #569
By now John Wiese is a kind of well-known, I think, due to his involvement with Sunn O))) and Bastard Noise, and so the vaults are open for re-issue. Sissy Spacek is the oldest band that Wiese was involved in, before moving to Los Angeles. Back in the days, Sissy Spacek was Corydon Ronnau on guitar, Danny McClain on drums and Wiese on guitar and electronics (these days the band is still Wiese, Ronnau and Jesse Jackson). Today the band uses the old recordings which are heavily put in collage mode and set against newly recorded material. With 'Remote Whale Control' we get to hear what it sounded like in 2001 when it was originally recorded and released. Heavy duty free music. Drums are in an absolutely free spirit, while the sound is picked up by Wiese's electronics. Both guitars are in similar free noise mood. This is not what these boys were taught in music school, and that's great. These days I have my reservations against noise, because much of it is made without imagination and all too easily, but in this case sweat comes bursting out of your speakers. No easy way is chosen, tension is all the way present, balancing the live noise act versus the studio manipulation. One could wish there is more like this. (FdW)
Gerritt & John Wiese "The Disappearing Act" CDEP
the Wire number 271
It's Wiese- brace yourself. This 20 minute EP sees the noise maverick working with Misanthropic Agenda label boss Gerritt, hardly a shrinking violet himself, having gone head to head with Merzbow, D Yellow Swans and Sunn0))) in the past. The Disappearing Act EP starts out with two disjointly short, sharp shocks of mashed-up sound, sudden jolts of electricity and the worrying rush of what sounds like toxic gas escaping from a canister. The final track is one 15 minute fade up of unbearably caustic jet engine whine. It'll have you pinned back in your armchair while your face gets pummeled by its horribly intense power, like those pilots filmed doing tests in wind tunnels.
- Keith Moline
LHD "Limbs of the Fawn" CD
the Wire number 271
Yet another dispatch from the bottomless crucible of John Wiese, this time in collaboration with fellow Californian Phil Blankenship, aka The Cherry Point. The packaging- a black digipak bearing an eldritch grey inscription- evokes both Keiji Haino's none-more-black aesthetic and Metallica's commercial breakthrough, 1991's self-titled "black album". Those are perhaps valid reference points for LHD's unsettling dead channel fuzz-storm, but Wiese and Blankenship trounce both in terms of desperate heaviness and frostbitten anomie. Superficially this is a vicious, face-ripping skree, bit on closer inspection one becomes aware of the dynamic between the two artists as their sheets of noise compete, overlap and enfold each other before splitting off and returning for another onslaught. The furious crackle of distortion that swathes this single 36 minute track operates as something of a red herring. Listen deep into its outwardly tempestuous void and it's possible to detect vamps, riffs, and even melodies in the non-stop barrage. It may be the hallucinatory properties of Wiese and Blankenship's collective sound, but the more suggestible may even begin to "hear" human voices through the tempest. Like much of Wiese's work in particular, Limbs of the Fawn has an ectoplasmic quality conducive to manifestations of the unearthly, its ferocity seemingly in direct proportion to its authors; desire for gnosis. While it may be fanciful to suggest he'll ever achieve this aim, it's thrilling to observe his progress.
- Joseph Stannard
Merzbow & John Wiese "Multiplication" CD

This CD is a must get/great addition/solid release, etc... for any John Wiese or Merzbow fan. It is a great collaboration that showcases the diverse (and at times similar) styles, sounds, and approaches of these two artists. I personally prefer the tracks produced by John Wiese (Tracks 1-5) ove the one produced by Merzbow (Track 6). Wiese seems more in control of his tracks. He mixes it up more by utilizing a greater range of sounds/textures/paces (from harsh to subtle) and styles (cut up, slow ambient build, and pure powerful outbursts) Wiese's style is the closest to sounding like the "Analog Merzbow" days, with more focus on the harsher/harder sounds (in general) than the usual laptop Merzbow. The filter sweeps and hard crunch of the old days are back, as well as the mixed and densely layered sounds which keeps with Wiese's solo composition/style along with the faster paced changes/cuts. The Merzbow produced track seems more like his earlier laptop compositions; one long track that slowly evolves (though some abrupt changes cut through this 24 minute piece) through styles and sounds, preferring to deal with one focus (a loop or texture) with sparse mixing/layering. The first two tracks (Bonaza/Luxor Skyship) are the harshest of the bunch. Crunch and filter sweeps that call back to the older Merzbow days (think 90's Merzbow Harshhead Era). Thick synth, crunch and distortion are the brunt of the attack this isn't a flat, one dimensional release. Harsh noise that's forceful, pronounced, interesting, and moving that sweeps through frequency ranges and style with brief pauses to let the listener breath briefly. (though New Wave Dust does come close to this level later on in the CD). Both tracks show a diversity and composition (read more like direction) that puts this in a much different place than a straight forward noise track. Spells (Track 3) starts on a calmer note. The single loop base that mixes in with other sounds and loops, slowly building off the one idea and then returning back to its base. The track flows in and out of rushes of sound. Wall of white noise, back into an ambient, sparse feel that can again grown into a dense mass. It does not reach the density or the harshness of the previous track but there is more than enough to keep an analog Merzbow fan happy. New Wave Dust 2 (Track 4) plunges the listener back into the harshness of the first two tracks. The variety of sounds used make it less forceful than the early tracks but more diverse. Pounding synth, processed metal, and feedback are pressed between loops and dense sharp walls of digital noise. They are then cut and slapped around by these two artists.It settles in briefly for some quieter moments before quickly jumping back into the loops and cut-ups. Erotic Westernscape (track 5) goes back again to more of the laptop syles of a lot of Akita's works, once again mixed in with the ambient John Wiese work from his solo CDs. Softer sounds and loops form a base processed with delay and reverb to fill out the sounds. This is the most "musical" track on the CD, harmonics (almost harmonies) float in and out of the spray of white noise and all this builds to a dense climax right at the end of the track. Multiplication (Track 6) rounds out the entire CD. A calmer mix of sounds, that seems like a collection of shorter pieces woven together. This is a lot like some of Merzbow's earlier work (as I stated before) it kind of reminds me of a Bazoutai but a digital version, crunching and processing a variety of sounds together into one long track. To me there is a better overall balance and cohesion in the Wiese produced (and by produced I am taking that to mean constructed or finalized) tracks. The heaviness, thickness, mixing, power, etc. that I felt was missing from many of the Merzbow laptop releases is presented here mixed in with the days of laptop white noise, and processing. To sum up: this is a very diverse album I think Merzbow benefits more from working with John Wiese. The collaboration brings some of the best elements from Merzbow's analog days together with the best elements of the laptop. This is how I think a good Merzbow album should sound.
- C.G.
Gerritt "Space Level Blaze" CD

An adrenaline rush of a noisercoaster, a heady combination of amusement and confusemen...and like all such rides, it is over much too quickly. Gerritt (Wittmer) is the man behind the Misanthropic Agenda (label that is), a key to his release is the amount of space and swirl he inserts between the raw explosions of sound. There's a nice sense of tension mounting, before you feel a full audio overload. And his use of effects is stellar, there's a reverb tunnel that #4 goes through which gets tighter and tighter until it squeezes out into a waterfall of noise, reducing down eventually to a rhythm of drops, or pulses real...and then in the end we get a slow fade of white noise. All of the tracks make nice use of panning, and stereo straying (check the pinballing left/right early in #5, which by the end of that piece has changed entirely into something like a game show with electrodes and jackhammers hooked up to contestants. But despite that, this is no Fear Factor of a release; the sheer noise is volcanic, but very well sculpted and honestly pretty damn fun. Two (#1, #6) of the tracks feature human whoops of sheer exhilliration. All cuts go through a variety of passages and make this an exceptional release of extreme electronics. E-ticket all the way...
- Thurston Hunger
boris "Dronevil" 2xLP
This massive two-LP set from Japan's gods of grime is intended to be simultaneously played on two stereo systems in two separate speaker sets, but like most people, I ain't rich, so I've only got one turntable and one meager stereo system, so I've got to experience the madness one track at a time, one LP at a time. Each LP offers one song per side, totaling just under 20 minutes per segment, but making for well over an hour's worth of music if you've gotta take it piece by piece. I actually haven't been a huge fan of Boris since their early days, and was always kind of saddened that they made somewhat of a directional shift, but I have to say that, for me, this is one of the better slabs of music I've heard from 'em in recent years. It's definitely still a little less active than I'd prefer, but there are some really effective moments throughout. In order to aid in the proper playback of both records at the same time, the two tracks on the first LP (aptly titled "Disc Drone") make up the "drone" piece of the puzzle, with "Giddiness Throne" taking side A with nothing but incredibly restrained low-end ambience that actually works very well on its own as a stripped down dark ambient noisescape. It's not very active or oppressive, but there's a really chilling atmosphere that ebbs and flows nicely throughout. "Interference Demon" is even softer and more reserved at first, sounding much more like feedback, but taking quite some time to slide into a more audible volume level that ends up being a hint louder and more layered than side A. But then it's time for the real action! "Evil Waveform" opens the second LP ("Disc Evil") and of course takes several minutes to finally start to build into concrete riffs and percussion, but once they do, it's nothing but gutwrenching sludge with pounding slow tempos and a really great sense of churning power to the gritty edge of the detuned guitar tone. Eventually things start to cave in to wails of feedback before bringing in some sparse, reverberated clean guitars over the course of several minutes before surprising you with a quick jump back to the oppressive sludge and feedback - with a few noisy leads to boot. "The Evilone Which Sobs" follows by starting off with some subdued clean guitars and a few harmonics with light effects, but what's interesting is that this passage is one of the scarce few moments I've experienced in any of Boris' more recent material that actually possesses some real feeling and emotion to it, making the transition all the more powerful when the throbbing distorted chords and bashing percussion finally take over. They don't stick around in full force though, allowing some curious feedback "solos" and melodic basslines to maintain a subdued feel with a couple of bluesy sounding guitar passages in the distance. Overall, the more 70's-esque riffing isn't as effective as the droning lead textures or the chugging chords (the latter of which is by far the most forceful element), but thankfully the second record is dominated by what Boris does best: Crushing chord progressions, sludgy low-end pulses, gritty noise and feedback, and so on. The records are both pressed on marbled gray vinyl and come inside of a thick, gorgeous gatefold sleeve designed by Stephen O'Malley. The outer packaging is done entirely in black, with a gloss overlay coat adding contrast to O'Malley's token three-dimensional layers of interweaving shapes, while the inside allows some white to show for the text, but maintains the gloss goat elsewhere. Also inside is a massive image that looks to be an Albrecht Dürer print (and not one of the ones that's overused) laid down in gold ink, so the entire package looks pretty god damn awesome if you ask me. I'm not sure how many listeners will snatch this up in order to experiment with layering the tracks from the two LP's together simultaneously, but as I said, it stands on its own in separate parts as well. It wouldn't hurt for the "Disc Evil" LP to be a hint more active, but I'm really digging the feel of "The Evilone Which Sobs", and as a dark ambient track "Giddiness Throne" is totally ace. The set is limited to 1,000 copies, and I'd imagine they'll go out of print at some point, so... this should indeed please the band's more dedicated fans, and might do the trick for a few casual observers as well.
Ginnungagap "Return to Nothing" CD
Named after the chasm in Norse mythology that resides between Nifelheim and Muspelheim, Ginnungagap ("seeming emptiness") apparently acts as an umbrella name for Stephen O'Malley's collaborative projects - here featuring O'Malley on guitar, Misanthropic Agenda's own Gerritt Wittmer working with a computer, and T. Wyskida handling gong and tympani. Opener "Return to Nothing" was recorded live at the Flux Factory in Queens, NY on March 10, 2004. Things open with sparse string scraping and plucking sounds with faintly resonant percussion, all fairly quiet and spacious, with some subtle melody and droning qualities filling in the gaps with some very faint electronic sounds and clicks. This continues in more or less the same fashion for nearly 30 minutes, with percussive textures taking a significant back seat and some of the guitars becoming a bit more strummed and tangible as the volume level increases a bit (distortion never plays too intense a role). Towards the end things drop out a little as the guitar notes start sliding around with added noisier accompaniments. As a whole the piece is fairly ambient in nature, though something about its character makes it fall outside of those boundaries as well. The 20-minute "Nothing to Return" follows, which is a Gerritt remix of the live set. It starts off right away with what sounds like pitch-shifted or slowed down samples of some of the percussive hits and string scrapings, made to sound a bit darker in this deeper context. This carries along similarly to the live set, focusing on the guitar sounds, drones, and background shufflings, while dropping out most of the percussive elements. The difference is that here things are a bit more manipulated to reverberate and come off a little colder and more sinister in delivery. 10 minutes into the track everything starts getting churned out through lots of effects, jacking up the watery reverb and twisting/morphing distorted textures across the foreground. Surprisingly the composition then reverts to basically the same ending sequence as the live set, tweaked here and there, but even closing with the same audience applause and everything. The CD comes in a beautiful oversized sleeve printed on matte cream paper with metallic gold ink over flat gold ink for layering effects; with one faint band photo, crisp/tiny text, and some images of hummingbirds. Inside the sleeve there's also a small number printed, so I assume each copy of the release is numbered. Simple, but very elegant. I'm not sure what the visual element of the actual live performance might have entailed, but it's probably safe to assume that witnessing this performance in the live setting would have been a bit more interesting than the recording herein - though admittedly its 28 minutes pass quite quickly considering, and there are definitely some hypnotic moments involved. I like that the remix is also quite in line with the live set, making for a cohesive release that flows well rather than feeling like two disconnected pieces related only by lineage. Not too shabby. Limited to 500 copies this is no doubt to go out of print at some point, so those intrigued should act sooner than later.

Merzbow-Frog "Remixed and Revisited" 2xCD
     Attractively packaged in a beautiful color folder, Misanthropic Agenda gathers a mix of noiseheads, Mego big-wigs, stoner drone-rockers, and unknowns to remix Merzbow's "Frog" LP from 2001. The unknowns (to me) do very well- especially Never Presence Forever who slows everything down to a bass-hum crawl- taking out the distortion in a manner akin to what Heemann did in his (great) Merzbow collaboration disc. Similarly, House of Low Culture takes another unexpected route, offering up subtle low-volume scrapes very carefully edited. The best piece on here might be the opener, where Hrvatski offers an INA/GRM flavored workout full of rapid fade-ins and fade-outs punctuated by mysterious silences. More along the lines of what you would expect from a Merz remix is John Weise's expertly cut-up harshness that, at first, jumps out of the speakers and then descends into a sparse and quiet unease of softly clipped sounds that startlingly explode back into loudness. Sunno))) play with loops, CD-skips and tape hiss building up to a dense mess floating over a rich sustained amp hum. Fennesz adds a two-note melody that softens the harshness, while Rusell Haswell mixes sparse grainy digital textures and blips to good effect. Hecker picks up where Haswell left off with a quiet mix through which sudden bursts of distortion struggle to explode. The track slowly builds up to massive noise roar that is well balanced in the bass department. Other remixers include Pita, Terror Organ, Ulver, Boris, When, Misanthropic Agenda label-owner Gerritt and Masami Akita himself.
Aquarius Records
     Ok, I know what you're thinking. A remix record?!?! A Merzbow remix record fer chrissakes?!?!? But c'mon, look at who's on this, it reads like an Aquarius who's who: Boris, When, Ulver, Fennesz, Sunn 0))), Hrvatski, Pita, House Of Low Culture and more! And they are remixing one of the best Merzbow records of recent memory, Frog. Surprisingly, all of the "remixes" are pretty cool, but the best results come from folks taking Merzbow's 'noise' in a decidedly more drony, dreamy, minimal direction, as opposed to making -his- noise sound more like -their- noise. Sunn 0))) offer up a gorgeously gritty, minimal rumble-scape, warm and languorous, with far-away guitars and slowly building static that threatens to, and eventually does, disrupt the murky ambience. Ulver minimalise as well, creating a grinding, lethargic rhythm from static, and slight blips of Merz-noise, all under a creepy, horror movie landscape of, ghostly theremin-like wails and warbly minor key melodies. And When take the noise, turn it way down until it's just soothing static, add distant carnival music, chirping cricket like sounds, a heartbeat like pulse, with occasional monster sounds (or maybe croaking frogs, but slowed down they sound like monsters!), rumbling, groaning and creaking ominously as proceedings build in intensity. But it's the Boris track that really makes this all worth while. An epic 20 minute dirge, with glacial guitars throbbing and moaning, creating a doleful, funereal threnody that sounds like Earth or Sunn 0))) buried under waves of shortwave static. The slow motion riffs stretch waaaay out, wailing mournfully almost like whale calls. So beautiful and haunting. Not bad for a remix record! Packaged in a gorgeous psychedelic fold out sleeve.
     Jesus... this is one massive, massive double CD collection of a wild assortment of groups reworking and putting their own individual spins on material from Merzbow's "Frog" LP. Hrvatski opens the first disc with a mix of somewhat typical electronic blips and echoed whirrs alongside nice ambient drones and hums. It's fairly minimal and quiet, and I love the depth of the ambience, though the other textures are honestly a bit bland to me. Pita's "Merzfrog473" is a shitload louder and more abrasive, using lots of ripping distortion with a thin sheen of hiss at times. The sounds cut in and out and leave things sounding not unlike the opener in its fairly minimal, spacious presentation. It does take a curiously melodic turn partway through, which is a nice change of pace and an excellent way to end the piece. "Advancing Hordes" by House of Low Culture is the first lengthy piece at around seven minutes, starting with some deep shuffling that gradually increases in volume as some lightly distorted electronics start to ping back and forth and fade in and out while an eerie fluttering sound (very insect-like) becomes more persistent in the distance, slowly increasing in volume. Never Presence Forever's "Gekihatsu" starts out almost inaudibly quiet - straight dark ambient drones/swells with a little bit of a melodic feel. This approach persists for most of the track until things become basically silent, but watch your speakers (and your ears) if you turned up the volume, because even though the song feels like it's over the final seconds blast forth with a strange surge of erratic volume. Sunn follows with nearly 10 minutes of excellent experimental electronics that is entirely different from everything I've heard from the group in the past. There are some great harmonic textures going on, and they really carry the piece with a lot more feeling than the rather sporadic chaotic textures that bounce around in their midst. There's definitely an oppressive, droning quality apparent, but it's achieved through different means, so it's Sunn, but in a very interesting fashion that I quite enjoy. Gerritt's piece is also far different than what I'm used to hearing from him, and at around eight minutes follows Sunn perfectly with a surprisingly melodic ambient track that has a little bit of a menacing quality to it. Very well done. Up next is Terror Organ with "Necrostuprum", a brief three-minute attack of harsh electronic noise that's a bit less structured than their norm, fading to a close with a killer ambient loop. John Wiese's simply (perhaps too simply) titled "Frog Remix" is a mere two-and-a-half minutes of hyperactive, schizophrenic cutup noise that ranges from obscenely loud and gratingly harsh to whisper quiet wisps of dead air· jarring, to say the least. Merzbow himself closes the disc with a monstrously long 15-minute song that covers all the bases from quirky and almost relaxing to loud, distorted, and in your face. Oddly enough there are some recognizable elements from the original "Frog" release mixed in there without a great deal of variation, which is sort of intriguing. But really, as a whole, the stronger moments don't save the whole track from being a bit wasteful. After all, do we really need to hear Merzbow remix himself for 15 minutes when a good two or three other projects could have taken a crack at it instead? The second disc begins with Fennesz's "Frog Remix" (Where have I heard that strangely unoriginal title before?), which is a slick blend of musical elements and noisy elements that starts the disc off strong. To my dismay, the Ulver contribution, which I had been the most eagerly anticipating, is actually a bit boring. It's one of the only tracks that clearly uses vocals (albeit under massive effects), but the sounds aren't all that interesting and there's no real atmosphere, which is quite opposite Ulver's usually powerful approach. A real disappointment, this one. I'm really not that into Russell Haswell's piece either. I've never really been fond of the "clicks and blips" sort of sound, and that's what "Masamifrogmaster (Edit)" amounts to: Seven minutes of clicks, blips, and lots of spaciousness. It's too long and it's insanely boring, to put it bluntly. Hecker's 10+ minute attempt takes awhile to get going, beginning quietly and building into a somewhat laidback presentation of stuttered distortion and percussive sounds. Once again, in all honesty this piece is not at all interesting or moving, and it's too long. "Dark Side of the Pink Frog", by When, uses the frog samples from Merzbow's LP among quiet layers of subtly percussive textures and is a bit more moody than the preceding three tracks on this disc, granted it's still not very exciting, it is a solid effort that helps revive this half of the release's breathing. Thankfully Boris' 20-minute "Froggie Bee-Baa" takes up a huge chunk of time and ends things off with a mix of chilling midrange tones and plenty of the thundering guitar sludge and feedback for which the Japanese act is revered. This is definitely the one song from this entire set where the remixer truly takes matters into their own hands and makes the work their own. Awesome. The layout on this thing is pretty cool. The two CD's come in thin white sleeves and are wrapped in a high gloss digipack of sorts that folds out from the center into the shape of a plus. There are a couple of images of frogs throughout the package, but it's mostly just layers and layers of circles spiraling all over the place and creating a sort of psychedelic movement. The tracklist is inside, while the participating artists are listed on the back flap. That's pretty much it, it's minimal, but pretty interesting and something different visually. I think the best thing about this collection is being able to hear so many projects working outside of their usual element due to the "remix" factor, and having many of them pull it off in fine form. Anytime there are 15 tracks in nearly two hours things are going to get a little bit bland at times, but there's probably a little something here for everyone to some degree. It's not the most cohesive compilation, not that it really should be, and I am deeply saddened that disc 2 is practically a waste of an hour. The brutal truth? This would've been a better release if Merzbow's track was chucked (along with most of disc 2) and Boris and Fennesz were tacked onto the end of disc 1 - making for a one-disc collection that would run as long as possible. I'm not kidding. This is still worth checking out, though. Don't write it off· The truly great tracks outweigh the bulk of the bland material.
Running time - 1:56:45, Tracks: 15
[Notable bands: Pita, Sunn, Gerritt, Fennesz, Boris]
     Fourteen of the worlds best noise-artists try their hands at a Merzbow track. What sounds like a gigantic avantgarde / noise tagmatch actually is one. All it takes is one little track by the mighty Merzbow and a half a dozen warriors (if you have seen Russell Haswellâs eyes when working his machines, youâll know what I mean) arenât enough to bring him down. Are you tough enough to stand up to it? I thought so. What did you expect from a label with that name? A hug? Actually, it is one, a closer one that you might find dandy. Another compilation with artists attempting to remix Merzbow, another failure bound to happen? It has happened before and it will happen again, but not this time around. Usually, Merzbow is the Eiger Northface to most artists, corpses and bodies shattered all around its feet. The sheer mass, power and scale of Merzbow, the uncompromising, all encompassing and almost violently direct approach of this purest form of noise, will not ever be reached by any other artist. Though some noise musicians, especially from Japan ö thinking of Aube, Masonna or Gerogerigegege ö have tried and produced some work equally as impressive, but looking simply at the time and output Masami Akita has spent and produced in his field of art, there is no other alike him. I remember an older compilation with Merzbow-remixes, who donât offer anything anymore for me nowadays, except a memory of trying to blast my neighbour out of his flat because he annoyed me with stupid 4/4-techno. Back then this compilation (I donât remember its name but it was released on Blast First and had a pink cover slip, it should be around here somewhere) was great. It offered straightforward, brutal shades of noise of all kinds of frequency spectres. But the artists on it, as I see it now, tried to hard to be something they ainât. Believe it or not, as soon as musicians leave the field of harmonies and try to find new paths and beauty in what is usually perceived as noise, personality is what leads the way. You canât play an image or a role when building an echoy dome of scraping noise like a train derailing in a monstrous dark cave. Maybe it is just that full force thunderstorms of raging white noise hitting all spots of my eardrum at full volume at once isnât as thrilling anymore as it used to be back in 1995. The main difference to back then is that all the artists on ãMerzbow: Frog ö remixed and revisitedä have their own signature and character that you can hear and depict in the tracks. The list is long and inspiring. Among others John Wiese (Bastard Noise), Pita (Mego), Fennesz, Russell Haswell, Hecker, Hrvatski and a slew of others have tried their hands at the knobs and most succeeded. As a most surprising guest, SUNNO))), the darkest, slowest epic-doom-metal-noise-band (well, it is still metal, in way) joins in. And also Merzbow himself offers another variation on his original source-piece for this compilation. There are some more artists with great but a little less known names, but Iâll leave them to you to discover yourself. All do a great job and it will take you a while to digest all of this. To even gulp it down is a lot to ask of any strong person. Of course, longwinding dark and bass-loaden noise-drones like ãgekihatsuä by Never Presence Forever are easier to stand than the wild and dynamic earpounding of Pita, but then again, you wouldnât play this on your mothers birthday anyway. Quite the contrary to yourself maybe. From time to time, I need a quite good dose of pure noise, which usually made me take Merzbowâs ãAqua Necromancerä or ãPulse Demonä out of the cupboard. When I am in the office or even at home, at times I like to listen to the noise of the traffic in front of the window as well. I guess there is still a big love for noise in me and a hearing habit that has been for ever jaded by a youth spent searching for the most extreme sounds available on a medium. Some time after I hit on Merzbow I stopped searching for extremes and changed to other qualities in music, but the experience and the mindset is still there. And a big row of CDs and vinyl records with nothing but noise on it is here still as well. But this is a great choice as well due to variation it offers. A promotion sized package of noise, in marketing terms. On the other hand, SUNNO)))âs track alone would be worth the whole price, especially when being listened to on headphones some time after midnight when you are already tired and weary. Makes the world look quite different. The variety of sounds on this two CDs is really vast. Gerrittâs ãfrog inside hypercubeä even features some beautiful soothing sounds, that is, if you find the sound of faraway Aeolian harves soothing even if they are hidden behind an array of building machines and aeonic creaks. A slow reminder of what the world was like before there was music, or humankind or even time itself. Or what the world is actually today. If you, for instance compare the aural experiments with field recordings by Justin Bennett or the inner worldly explorations of Cordell Klier with the crap called music the world is being filled today ö I am talking about the plastilin radio shit that drowns us day in day out even in public places ö then youâll get to the same conclusion as me: that the sounds called noise and the art produced with it by people such as Merzbow or the ones on this compilation is truly spiritual and naturalistic music and art, respectively. One that questions the synthetic differentiation between man and nature on the one side and machine and the products of man on the other hand. An encompassing viewpoint of nature as it is would argue that toxic waste, overpopulation and ultimately the self-destruction of mankind is just another natural act in a long row of natural acts. It has happened before. Well, I donât think records like these will change anything at the state of the world as it is, and neither do I think they are intended to by anyone; but they can open our eyes to a different state of the world. The next time you are driving on a highway try listening to your machine instead of the radio. I am sure it has some interesting stories to tell. But youâll have to stop listening with your ears first.
Merzbow "Frog+" 2xCD
     I reviewed the "Frog" LP quite some time ago, and since disc 1 of this set is simply the five tracks from said LP, here's what I had to say about the material way back when: "Beginning, appropriately enough, with the 'ribbit' sounds of frogs before plunging headlong into a caustic barrage of distortion and looped noises, the opening track becomes less structured and more chaotic as it continues, reintroducing rhythmic loops and crunches towards the end. 'Hikigaeru Ga Kuru' starts off with ambient swirls and insect/swamp like sounds fading in and out around one another, eventually utilizing another bass heavy rhythmic loop as structure - ironically swaying from the least abrasive moments to those most over the top. 'Denki No Numa' immediately kicks in with painful screeching and dense layers of grinding, treble laden noise. A stuttering rhythmic break splits in at one point prior to a calmer segment that brings back the frog samples. 'Kaeru No Shima' is the subtlest composition of all, with constant hissing and 'blips' banging around. This piece runs together seamlessly with the final track, 'Catch 22', to end on a high note with very atmospheric strengths." Now, disc 2 contains four massively long tracks that clock in at damn near an hour of bonus material. "Black Frog" ranges from somewhat calm hissing and stuttered tones to grating harsh noise, though all somewhat more flat or perhaps distant than is often the case. Things get much more chaotic and abrasive at the end, but there still doesn't appear to be a whole lot of layering going on, it could possibly just be the manipulation of one tone through various effects. "Track777" is busier with more layering and sort of a constant variety of glitchy, shuffling, distorted electronic tones - basically equating to more movement and less feeling (in my opinion), though oddly I like this track better because it covers a wider tonal range through its various stages of passage. "Track555" is also pretty jittery and moves around a lot, but I'm not into the blips and beeps and all of that sort of goofy electronic sounding stuff· It can be handled well, and it can be handled so that it sounds like a Speak 'n Spell being raped by a Casio keyboard· and that's sort of the case in this track: It just seems cheesy. "Frog Variation No.2" unloads tons of fucked up musical samples at the start. What they are I do not know, it could be anything from jazz records to pop music, but there's definitely some kind of music being completely contorted there, unless my ears are playing some serious tricks on me. A good amount of rhythmic loops and abrasive distortion becomes present, but nothing so over the top that it feels unlistenable. Bouncy throbbing bass tones come into play as well, making this track similar to "Track777" in its range of frequencies. Also on disc two is a Merzbow screensaver, but I think it sort of sucks. It's just a bunch of crazy, hyper colorful psychedelic patterns with frogs and stuff on 'em that flash back and forth while some percussive noises play in the background. That's not much of a screensaver if you ask me! But anyway· The recording here does seem to rest heavily in the midrange of things, so even though the textures and atmospheres are fairly curious to me, the sound does seem to need more highs and lows to really round itself out on occasion. I think the low-end probably suffers the most, as there are some nice, bright treble tones here and there, but the low-end often comes off as fairly vacant (not all the time, but in most cases). It doesn't bother me all that much, but I feel like I want something more pushing these sounds forward. My ears adjust after awhile though, I must admit. And the tracks on disc 1 still sound pretty good to me, a bit thicker and more consistent than on disc 2. The CD's come in a package very similar to that of the vinyl pressing. The digipack sleeve's front and back covers mirror the vinyl identically, showing colorful images of frogs and rocks with subtle designs overlaid in a coat of gloss varnish. Inside is a collage of artwork that has all sorts of insects and flowers and such, and the two CD's vibrantly colored, disc 1 with one frog on top, disc 2 with two frogs. The only text aside from the tracklist appears under the second disc and is simply some recording/contact information. I must confess that, as nice as the digipack is, this release lacks the visual punch of the LP, what with the LP sleeve being larger and more in your face, the vinyl being "frog colored", etc. Overall this is still a solid release, and better than average from Merzbow in my book, but I prefer the visual appeal and brevity of the vinyl to this two-CD set, regardless of the fact that it's still a valiant effort.
Running time - 1:32:28, Tracks: 9
[Notable tracks: Kaeru No Shima, Catch 22, Track777, Frog Variation No.2]
the Wire
      Originally released on a vinyl LP that was the colour of an exotic poisonous amphibian, Merzbow's Frog (Misanthropic Agenda MAR004 2xCD) has now been expanded into a double disc set that takes the original idea to its very limit. The first disc features a furthur 58 minutes of sonic croaking and white noise swamp wading, complete with an enhanced CD-ROM video/screensaver that punches Masami Akita's wildlife noise onslaught in your eye with a vengeance. While the full extent of the project was clearly laid down on the original LP version, this somewhat elaborate extension allows Merzbow a little more room to feed rock guitar samples into his creation, as he turns the frog chorusing all the way up and sets the controls for total meltdown mode.
- Edwin Pouncey
     The all out assault on "Frog" starts with "Suzumebachi No Kinbu" like a squeaky wheel and then blasts on through to the other side. This new set includes a full-length bonus disc of additional remix material and a video. At once the listener is awakened to this white noise barrage meets dramatic waterfall. With the immediate impact to ward off the weak-eared, Houston-based Misanthropic Agenda unleash Masami Akita's latest electro-acoustic assault on the barren scraps of environmental elements left on his earth. Prepared static and sonic boom draw from a multitude of found sounds and inference. On "Hikigaeru Ga Kuru" he brings the temperature down for a few minutes before developing a haunted vortex of raw textured noise. You can hear the sound spinning. The bloated indirect intention of "Kaeru No Shima" slowly captures the edge of the wind and scratches until the blur of its barest elements remain. Rewind the tape, sharpen your tools, this virtual landscape is altered to taste. Melding flawlessly into the final "Catch 22", Akita acknowledges the other side of the coin, the challenge of communicating in the universal tongue of noise and all its implications. Like a warped screenplay with croaking, surreal giants and organic creatures, this is what sci-fi was meant to be.
     Disc 2 offers an aerial view of mother Earth in development. "Black Frog" is the alter-side of this prolific artist's vision. 100% static drone + 100% white noise = 200% genius. Playing with knobs and wires, this sounds like an improvised experiment taking place in the beta testing lab of a manufacturing plant. The moments in repose only stunt the beatless continuum for a brief interlude of calculation. Once he's got his motor started, this baby hits the ground running. Though this is more of a work-in-progress. It is more sensitive on "Track 777" sifting heavy metal through divine filters and other detonators. Inside you find a tonal test, a sound scale played and then reversed and played back under the repetitious corruption of the ongoing soundscape. "Frog Variation No. 2" secures the audio portion of our experience. Micronoise blends with a bobbling conveyer belt while a hissing menace snarls out of control unexpectedly. Just when you thought it was safe to listen via headphones Merzbow will kick your ass again and again. This is for active listeners who can stand it.
- TJ Norris
All-Music Guide
     With a title like that, this platter sure deserves to be called unnameable music - which is a sure way to please most noise music fans (well, at least it works on me). As Merzbow's inspiration started to give serious signs of breathlessness in the early 2000's, punishment-searching ears began to turn to John Wiese's solo project Sissy Spacek. His noise is harsh, often crude but structured with gusto and a mischievous intention to take you off guard. Fooling around with dynamics is what Wiese does best. Side A of this short LP pressed on dirty white vinyl begins with a soft hum, misleadingly ambient; then, hell breaks loose and screeching and screaming hits your ears. It all comes to a sudden stop at 2:42, which may indicate the end of "Cobra Heart and Rainbow Pic" and the beginning of "Please Don't Sleep While We Explain" - then again, a couple of other cuts could also qualify as the switch; the vinyl was pressed in a way that makes it impossible to tell and that also applies to side B. The piece moves to manipulations of guitar, drums and bass riffs in a way similar to Merzbow's "Merzbeat"... without the beat. The flip side follows the same structure: It begins with a blast of harsh noise and then starts to introduce moments of vacuity and mid-air hanging, keeping a balance between evisceration and cleverness.
- Francois Couture
     Here's the vinyl edition of Sissy Spacek's "Scissors" CD on a slick looking opaque hot pink 12" EP. You know the drill here, tons of crazy cutups and spliced together samples of drumbeats with varying degrees of distortion present, some maniacal vocal screams, some calmer moments of quiet ambient textures that just leave you waiting for your speakers to explode in another burst of chaotic madness, etc. I was sort of surprised at how many quiet areas there are on side A, at one point you can hear feedback and drums, but the volume level is less than half of what the material offers at its most extreme moments. Side B's sole track, "Hair Control b/w Incredible Fluorescent Ghost Hulk", is a bit more exciting all around, keeping the energy and volume levels high with significantly more movement and frenzied energy. It's in the same general style as side A's "Cobra Heart and Rainbow Pic b/w Please Don't Sleep While We Explain", and the same general style for which Sissy Spacek is known, it's just more interesting and fun to listen to, especially when a few samples of metal guitar riffs start popping up for minimal snippets of time. It's more dynamic and diverse than the first track, I would say. The recording seems fine to me. It's crisp and bright, with enough density to pull its weight. Nothing seems thin or overly irritating on the high-end of things, nor is it muddy. The LP comes in a thick gatefold sleeve that's mostly blank white, except for the cover, which shows the same unusual black line drawings as the CD's cover, and the back, which has a tiny, tiny amount of very small text in the bottom left corner. Now, here's where it gets interesting· the sleeve feels heavy as fuck, and that's because there's a bonus one-sided 12" EP hidden in the front panel of the gatefold. I say "hidden" because only the back half of the gatefold has an opening, and I damn near tore the sleeve trying to reach my arm all the way down through to the front panel to slide the other record out. Awesome. The bonus record is called "Psychic Facts" and contains four songs that were recorded live on KXLU radio in Los Angeles on August 28, 2001. The titles aren't listen on the LP's label, just the EP title and the playing speed, but the titles are listed on the web as "Hair Control pt.0", "Psychic Facts", "Hair Control pt.1", and "Hair Control pt.2". These pieces aren't quite as chaotic, relying more on eerie distorted textures and glitchy tones than drum samples or heavily distorted screams (though some of the latter elements do show their faces). The arrangements are still relatively chaotic and pieced together in a cutup style, but the overall effect is something curious and perhaps more laidback, if that's possible. The "SISSISSPSSKSSISSRS" LP is limited to 1000 copies, and only 100 come with the "Psychic Facts" 12", so I'm guessing your chances of getting the bonus version are slim to none at this point. But Misanthropic Agenda never seems to suffer from a shortage of creative ideas, and this release is no exception.
Running time - 36:00 (approximately), Tracks: 6
[Notable tracks: Hair Control b/w Incredible Fluorescent Ghost Hulk, Psychic Facts]
Bastard Noise/Gerritt split 7"
     This 7" split between Bastard Noise and Gerritt is available in two versions, a clear version and a marbled version. Aside from the actual look of the vinyl itself, the two are the same. Bastard Noise does a feedback heavy track called "Protozoa Syringe". It's pretty cool for what it is, I enjoyed it. A lot of random electronics, which I usually like in noise, are heard on this track. It also varies and doesn't repeat itself a lot, which I also liked. Gerritt is featured on the other side, which showcases three tracks. The first is "Focus", which is a cool noise track that consists of a soundscape while someone whispers, "Focus..." over and over. "Absent Feature" continues in a similar vein and seems to consist entirely of distorted vocals saying, "Absent feature..." and some other stuff that I can't make out. "Soulless Creatures" is a nice, static based soundscape with some very high-pitched distorted vocals that I liked a lot. Although these tracks are short, they seem like a good length for what they are. The Gerritt side ends on a locked groove with some noise and someone saying, "Shut up..." over and over again. This is a really neat 7" that comes in a cool transparent plastic sleeve. Pick this up, I liked it a lot.
- Jason R.
Aquarius Records
     From the label that brought us the amazing Merzbow "Frog" LP comes this noisy 7" artifact. One side is Man is the Bastard Noise, more commonly known as Bastard Noise, the free/electronic/noise offshoot of sludge rockers Man is the Bastard. Bastard Noise is Wood from MITB and AQ buddy John Weise. Their side of this single is an almost tranquil blanket of high end whir, sounding like an orchestra of mosquitoes, helicopters, kitchen appliances, and madly chirping birds. Almost dreamy in that peculiar noise kind of way. The B side comes courtesy of label honcho Gerritt Wittmer and is three tracks of affected sinister vocals, looped and chopped chunks of low end distortion, very 80's industrial sounding, and I mean that in a good way. Plus Misanthropic's usual impeccable packaging!
     Bastard Noise takes side A and kicks out one track ("Protozoa Syringe") of classic harsh noise fury: Part crunchy lo-fi distortion, part crisp high-end blips and whirrs. The track changes fairly constantly with some minimal moments of biting feedback popping up at times, and the ending sounds nice and intentional (rather than the abrupt cut that often ends such pieces). This is the way it should be done - brutal yet tactful, not just a mishmash of the same bullshit for five or more minutes. Gerritt throws out three tracks, and the beginning is certainly the most interesting portion: "Try to grasp the abstract. Quick· before it's out of reach·" The next thing you know you're smack in the middle of some tormented vocal loop manipulations. "Absent Feature" uses over the top distorted vocal screams. It's very minimal, but I can't exactly make out the lyrics, aside from a mention of the title. The song as a whole feels a bit choppy, lacking the atmosphere that "Focus" brought forth. "Soulless Creatures" also uses some vocals, though subtly, mixed back amidst death industrial loops, and then exploding into high-pitched distortion. I enjoy the rhythm of the loops, and the track closes with a locked groove. The record comes in a thick clear plastic sleeve with a clear sticker on the front cover. Very basic, and since the records come on either clear or multi-colored vinyl it looks pretty nice. This one's been in the making for a hell of a long time, so it's cool to finally see it out.
Running time - 10:00 (approximately), Tracks: 4
[Notable tracks: Protozoa Syringe, Focus]
Moving Hands
     This is a split 7" from the American noise acts Bastard Noise and Gerritt. Bastard Noise contribute one track, "Protozoa Syringe". It starts off with what sounds like the noises you would hear from inside a big sawmill. It then turns into high-pitched squeaking mixed with lo-fi distorted noise, pretty much what you would expect from Bastard Noise. It is a good track though, it's kind of brutal to listen to, but yet it's not something that is made in a sloppy way. It's also kind of nice to hear a five-minute noise piece that doesn't repeat itself over and over.
     The Gerritt side consists of three tracks, and the first one is "Focus". This is not that different from Bastard Noise, but it's still something else. The track consists of a vocal loop laid on top of different looped noises. Next up is "Absent Feature", which I think is really cool. It almost sounds like if a sound system is about to break down and noises and heavily distorted voices keep punching you in the face over and over. The final track is "Souless Creatures", which I also like a lot, high-pitched distortion mixed with voices that are distorted beyond recognition. One cool thing about the last track is that it ends with a locked loop that will play for an eternity if you don't shut it off.
     I think that this is a really cool split, and if I would grade each side, the Bastard Noise one would get a 6 and Gerritt an 8. The single is limited to 1000 copies, where 200 come on clear vinyl and 800 are multi-colored.
Merzbow "Frog" LP
All-Music Guide
     If anyone thought Masami Akita (Merzbow) had been getting soft lately, "Frog" should set things straight. True, the noisician has been involved in more restrained projects at the turn of the millennium (like his collaboration with Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Quintet, for instance). But this LP, released by the Texas-based label Misanthropic Agenda is all glorious, vintage Merzbow: Ear-grinding, provocative, intelligent. The cover artwork gives indications as to what the music held inside sounds like, but not necessarily what it actually is. Side one opens with the cawing of frogs - not your average field recording, these are loud monsters. The artist crunches his modified guitar (or whatever apparatus he used here) to mimic the instantaneously recognizable sound. The same applies to the rocks and shells pictured on the cover. We hear something like them in the last piece, "Catch 22". The knocking sound (Objects on a glass table?) provides the backbone of the track, the only one where room is made for silence - heavy, menacing silence. An epilogue of sorts, it works well against the four heavily textured pieces preceding it. In these, layer upon layer of harsh noise cycle rhythmically, making way occasionally for the frogs to reappear. Some fans may think 34 minutes is a bit shortish, but it remains the best duration to enjoy Merzbow's music before the headache settles in. This LP is pressed on green and red vinyl with Akita's collage art on the inside cover, making it a very nice object in addition to a fine, if not essential, Merzbow release.
- Francois Couture
     Another amazingly impressive release from the often-lackluster Merzbow. In fact, this is one of the all around best Merzbow releases I've encountered. Beginning, appropriately enough, with the "ribbit" sounds of frogs before plunging headlong into a caustic barrage of distortion and looped noises, the opening track becomes less structured and more chaotic as it continues, reintroducing rhythmic loops and crunches towards the end. "Hikigaeru Ga Kuru" starts off with ambient swirls and insect/swamp like sounds fading in and out around one another, eventually utilizing another bass heavy rhythmic loop as structure - ironically swaying from the least abrasive moments to those most over the top. Side B immediately kicks in with painful screeching and dense layers of grinding, treble laden noise. A stuttering rhythmic break splits in at one point prior to a calmer segment that brings back the frog samples. "Kaeru No Shima" is the subtlest composition of all, with constant hissing and "blips" banging around. This piece runs together seamlessly with the final track, "Catch 22", to end on a high note with very atmospheric strengths.
     This is definitely more diverse than your average Merzbow effort, so it's not boring. But don't get the wrong idea, this certainly won't disappoint the diehard noiseheads. Of course the vinyl lends a certain rawness to the sound, so it's not as crisp as some of his CD releases might be, but that's of little hindrance, especially to the harshest moments (which actually benefit from it). The LP is housed in an enormous, full color gatefold sleeve with some unique imagery. The outer cover contains images of frogs and rocks, while a collage of various insects, flowers, etc. graces the inner sleeve. All of the printing is done on a matte finish, with ultra high gloss designs overlaid on both the front and the back of the gatefold. The vinyl is a clear green tint, with red spots around the edges (assumedly mimicking the skin of the spotted frogs on the front cover). So everything looks and sounds very cool, and this is most assuredly limited edition. Merzbow fanatics should probably snag this now, as I would guess it's destined to become one of his most collectible releases. Misanthropic Agenda's output may be infrequent, but it's always something special· and well worth the wait.
Running time - 33:57, Tracks: 5
[Notable tracks: Kaeru No Shima, Catch 22]
The Wire, #214
     The colorful, vinyl-only "Frog" is equally unpredictable and enjoyable. Using the guttural croak of some Amazonian amphibian as an inspirational marker, this soon transforms into an imaginary lost world of noise, a dense reverberating rain forest of found sounds and artificially generated effects. These frogs' croak treatments are his conclusive proof that there's life beyond the "Merzbox".
- Edwin Pouncey
Lockweld "Ultra Go" 7"
     This record gets a high rating based on the package alone. It has always been popular with noise artists to construct handmade packaging, but this takes the cake! The 7" is actually encased in a wooden box that cannot be opened without a special wrench (which is stuck under a Lockweld sticker on the front cover). The wrench unscrews seals at each side of the casing, and closes the package afterwards. Truly amazing, one of the greatest inventions of handmade packaging I've ever seen.
     Side A is "Lost in Space", a hushed blur of synthesized electronics. More laid back than most of Lockweld's other material, the sounds are interesting, but too repetitive from beginning to end (with one quick transition to a great locked groove). Side B gives us "Ultra Go", which is classic Lockweld complete with mechanized noise, thin feedback, and insane cackled vocals masked with distortion. This side suffers from the same problem as side A, as far as being very repetitive with only one quick change for another locked groove to round out the track. This is not their strongest material, but they are always evolving their sound, and when interesting audio teams up with an insane package this becomes a recommended item. It's limited edition to merely 200 copies too, so odds are they'll disappear fast.
[Notable track: Lost in Space]
v/a "Sadomachinism" compilation CD
All-Music Guide
     This compilation album launched the noise label Misanthropic Agenda back in 1999. For a first release, the people at the helm managed to gather an impressive lineup, including such high-profile names as Merzbow, Aube, and Kid 606 - the real surprise here. The music ranges from death ambient to harsh noise, and from forgettable to highly rewarding. Merzbow's "Fireball" is exactly that: It shoots through the sky, burning everything in its path. Not among his best pieces, it will still give fans their fix (the king of Japanoise later released better music for the same label in the form of the "Frog" LP). Aube's "Ionosphere V" almost brings an anti-climax with its restrained digital constructions - a beautiful example of the artist's work at the turn of the millennium. Other highlights include KK Null's "U.H.D.0023", the trash-dance "Please Respond" by Titwrench, and Season of Discontent's "spare no one" attack in "Tomagotchi Crib Death". As usual with such compilation CD's, it's all hits and misses, but the noise fan will find enough quality acts, honest music, and ear-splitting experiences to make worthwhile the effort to locate a copy - not an easy task since the album was released in a limited edition of 500. The fact that the CD is packaged in a metal sleeve adds an interesting visual element.
- Francois Couture
Apt. 2324, #4
     A compilation with pretty cool packaging and a pretty diverse lineup. The outer package for the CD is a piece of metal with the title hand-pressed into it. This package (and perhaps the entire CD) is limited to 500. The lineup ranges from Japanese noise heavyweights, to some Vinyl Communications artists usually associated with hardcore techno, to a bunch of Cleveland's more well known noise groups. Merzbow, Aube, and KK Null represent the Japanese portion of the disc. Null offers up another interesting track of layered guitar noise that would fit in just fine on his recent CD's. Merzbow's track is the most surprising on the disc, combining his recent interests by incorporating drum sounds into his work while also featuring the all out noise assault he is best known for, which has been missing from his recent work. Kid 606 and Tit Wrench are the Vinyl Communications artists that I previously mentioned, and both of their tracks here are far less techno than I had anticipated, which is a good thing in my opinion. Interesting tracks from both. Cleveland is represented by Psywarfare, Lockweld, Season of Discontent, and Three Bloody Monkeys. Psywarfare's track is a bizarre blend of hard techno and industrial, not the type of stuff I would usually listen to, but pretty aggressive and intense nonetheless. Lockweld's track starts off somewhat mellow with Karen whispering over it, but quickly proceeds into the mayhem you'd expect. Season of Discontent's track is taken from their demo that they released recently, a good straightforward harsh track, and even if you have the tape, it's worth hearing here as it's easily twice as loud on CD. Other artists on here are Carthage, Residual Orchestra, Gerritt, and Never Presence Forever. Definitely a good compilation to check out.