At certain points listening to Senmaida reminds me of what it must feel like to be torn to pieces and relocated somewhere else, like stepping into the transporters in all those sci-fi television series. I used to listen to a Merzbow records a few times a year and then shelve them for whenever I decided a headache was in order or whenever I felt like listening to something that would purify my mind and wipe my memory clean. When "Tract 3" kicks in with it's game-like, popping rhythm and the call of animal sounds, it's hard to believe that Merzbow has been doing anything but this for his entire career. This isn't a harsh noise extravaganza, it's simply my favorite Merzbow album to date and one of the best records I've heard all year.
Save for a few animal
sounds clearly tucked away under Akita's monumental barrage of noise splatter, Senmaida
is a predominantly rhythmic album that is catchy enough to keep the
album in my player. The inclusion of beats over his white noise,
a-blender provided a way for Akita to explore his noise further. Now
Akita has almost completely eschewed the pure noise approach and
created something vaguely new so far as my knowledge of the infinite
Merzbow catalogue goes. Don't get me wrong, there are still long
strokes of jumbled chaos riddled all over this disc, but more
discernable samples are used and space is absolutely essential to each
of the three tracks.
The variations in tempo, timbre, and intensity make for a
far more interesting album and, instead of sounding simply loud and powerful, Senmaida
has a dark feel to it that isn't too far removed from all the dark jungle or drum 'n bass that
was popular years back. The beats aren't what is out of control, though, it's the dark,
mechanical, nearly industrial pulse of Merzbow's percussion that seems the most sane and
consistent part of the record. Above those beatings, however, is the rattle of marbles being
chucked around inside the skull of dead animal, the ADD-driven smashing of a billion toms
hurtled through a wood cutter with the performer still attached, and all the digital means
necessary to pin it all together.
The word "senmaida" literally means "a thousand rice paddies" and, so
far as a thematic must go, serves as Akita's way of saying "don't eat animals." The album cover,
however, sports a cartoon rabbit shooting a needle into a human's eyeball, the individual being
strapped down to a medical bed and looking awfully uncomfortable. I guess Akita has never
claimed he was the master of holding down a narrative, but whatever the case may be, this is one
of Merzbow's strongest records.