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A Day of Seals Box set

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x98aa8d74) out of 5 stars 1 review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98aa40fc) out of 5 stars Fifteen tracks, three hours, all MERZ. 28 Jun. 2004
By Robert Beveridge - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Merzbow, 24 Hours: A Day of Seals (Dirter Promotions, 2002)
What's this? Oh, another four-CD box from Merzbow, the most prolific artist in the known universe. I'd be more overjoyed if I could afford all the man's output (or if labels would send me review copies free). It's great stuff, but man, when you release another $15.99 CD every six weeks, the wallet starts to protest a bit.
Fifteen tracks spread over four discs.
"Good Morning Azarashi:" looped sludgy guitar with gradual buildup of feedback. Breaks about two-thirds of the way through and degenerates into looped, rhythmic static. Nifty, but not unlike a more controlled version of Akasha Gulva or Rhinogradentia.
"Mincle No Uta:" More industrial from the get-go, with looped samples of what sounds like junk being banged together and a heavily vocoded track of what sounds like Middle Eastern music. (Cher never sounded like this!) Overlaid, of course, with the trademark cosmic distortion and other various debris that make this stuff so interesting. The rhythm shifts now and again, but the source sounds never seem to change. Who else but Merzbow could make such a thing listenable for nine minutes twenty seconds?
"Tetsu's Parade:" Now here's some all-out weirdness. The same kind of looped structure as "Good Morning Azarashi," but far more chaotic in its execution. Starts off low and soft, but kicks itself up into wall of noise pretty quickly, and from there the manipulations of the loops shift through various types of heavy distortion. Fantastic. The most interesting and listenable piece on disc one.
"Rising King Penguin:" a monster of a track, stuttery midrange combined with metallic loops underneath.
"Dugong:" disc one closes with another looped guitar line, with birdsong-style chirping looped over top of it. Guitar goes crazy after a while (this track almost has a K2 sound to it, if you've ever seen K2 performing live). Gets even crazier later on, going into full high-register mode in order to tear your ears off and put them back together incorrectly.
"Charcoal Grey Clouds:" the first of the set's really Merzbow-esque (read: epic-length) tracks, clocking in at forty-three minutes and change. It really does have a thunderstorm feel to it, at least for the first four minutes. Chaotic low register stuff builds like the thunderclouds rolling over the horizon, then everything explodes in complete and utter chaos, rather like a Merzbow live performance. From there, it heads off into mid-eighties Merzbow territory, with all sorts of oddnesses, including a looped, untreated bass that almost makes it sound like normal music for a while, until the noise closes in again. Intriguing, listenable piece.
"Industrial Barbecue" starts off almost (dare I say it?) ambient, with wind whipping across an open plain, but put it out of your head. In less than thirty seconds, the noise explodes, with a guitar on some sort of extended sustain in the background. Alternates with chugging bits like a car that won't start recorded in slow motion. This one's great for setting your Winamp visualization thing to "Random" and just staring at it.
"Scarletstripped Clean Guitars" opens disc three, roaring right out of the gate with looped chaotic noise, then gets harsher. Twenty minutes of sheer nonstop panic.
"Bikal Sunshine" continues the assault, with warped, distorted bass loops overpowered by high-register noise. A real ear-shredder, one of the album's gems. The kind of stuff that is one of Merzbow's real strengths: short (relatively; the track clocks in under six and a half minutes), brutal blasts of noise aimed at making it hard to breathe from across the room by pure sonic force.
"Sleeping White Whales" is another epic track, running just shy of nineteen minutes. If you thought "Scarletstripped Clean Guitars" was harsh, wait till you hear this. (Remember, this is the guy who kept perhaps the loudest recording ever, Akasha Gulva, at peak intensity for more than seventy minutes straight.) "Sleeping White Whales" opens with a high-register pulse and layered pink noise beneath it, then intercuts pieces where the high-resister loses the pulse and wanders off into new realms of aural sadism. This one's probably going to be a bit over the edge for Merzbow neophytes, but for the dedicated noise fan, it doesn't get much better.
"Untitled Pulse:" Exactly what it says it is. Some high-register warbling over it to keep things interesting, but otherwise a very minimal piece.
"Moon Jelly Fish" opens the final disc with a blast of noise, then settles down into a deep, black trench from which it only gradually emerges. When it does, though, things get pretty ugly. Deeply distorted high- and medium-register stuff with no discernible patterns. May cause epileptic fits in both epileptics and people who think Christina Aguilera can actually sing.
"Walrus Band:" imagine what a band would sound like if walruses really were playing the instruments. This track sounds absolutely nothing like that. A looped piece that sounds like a couple of bars from a full band, but the requisite fuzz is plastered over everything so you only really get the guitar line and the outlines of the other sounds (there's definitely drums on this sample, at least).
"Goma:" If you have survived this long, in one listen, congratulations. Here's your reward: walls of static stuttering over high-register base, sliding into brutally distorted guitar loops.
"Child of Dream Sea" rounds out disc four in a surprisingly (given the rest of the box) meditative mood, going back to the looped guitar, but without quite as much distortion, keeping it almost untreated for the first three minutes or so of this track. Then the noise kicks in, but somehow, after disc three, it almost seems calm. Not that your noise-deprived friends won't look at the tape player and say "what in god's name is THIS?" but it'll help you relax.
Definitely a worthwhile release from the master. It's been called the most satisfying Merzbow disc. I don't know about all that, but it's a good'un. ****
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