Merzbow – Animal Liberation – Until Every Cage Is Empty
Japanese noise legend Merzbow is still a firm believer in animal liberation by any means necessary.
Merzbow is the artistic name of Japanese noise musician Masami Akita, who has been known for over four decades for his incredibly intense and challenging work that pushes the boundaries of sound and experimentation. Over the years, his music has been characterized by harsh, abrasive textures, distorted and manipulated sounds, and a relentless assault on the senses that can be both overwhelming and disorientating to the uninitiated listener.
According to Pitchfork, in their review of his 2018 record MONOAkuma, “Merzbow is one of the noise genre’s true icons and one of its real anomalies”. Now, I’m not nowhere near Pitchfork’s writers and reviewing even Merzbow’s most recent releases could be an immense task given his countless recordings and dozens of collaborations with other artists, but you know that some records are personally more interesting than others.
As an artist who comes from the anarcho and hardcore punk scenes, Masami Akita is also a fellow vegan, and his commitment to animal rights activism seems to be growing stronger with time. Having been vegan for half my life now, I was absolutely thrilled to hear Merzbow’s Animal Liberation – Until Every Cage Is Empty, released in 2022 on the UK label Cold Spring. The album contains five fairly long tracks, including the four-part “No Cages” and the closer “Baby Bird”. The album’s artwork is the ultimate tribute to the animal rights and anarcho-punk movements of the ’80s, resembling the classic Crass Records layouts in all their glory.
As you might guess, Merzbow’s noise assault, which is present in some of its most brutal forms on this record, is not for everyone. His music is certainly not something that can be easily listened to or understood on a casual level, but if you come to this sonic experience solely because of its vegan-themed title and artwork, I suspect that this 49-minute animal liberation-themed blast to the ears will remind you of the harsh and unsettling feeling you had when you first watched the Earthlings documentary. Apart from this record, Merzbow released another animal liberation—or more like human annihilation—inspired record last year. I’m talking about the Retribution By All Other Creatures split LP with Bastard Noise on Relapse Records, and both records fucking rule!