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Four pillars for five years: the Sound Barrier pays tribute to the musicians who inspired it. Part Two: Merzbow!

The Sound Barrier for Sunday 2 April 2017

Coming up this weekend on The Sound Barrier will be the second of four shows where I focus on four musicians who, in different ways, represent the ideas and inspirations that are at the core of The Sound Barrier, as its fifth birthday approaches this month.

Last week it was the genre-bending energy and creativity of John Zorn. This week it will be the great Japanese god of noise, Merzbow.

Masami Akita created Merzbow in the late 1970s and, since then, has released hundreds of recordings that challenge the very essence of what we understand music to be. Even today musicians and lovers of music will argue about where to draw the line between music and noise. Merzbow eschews that distinction altogether and has, instead, embraced noise as a musical genre to be explored and celebrated.

He might not have been the first to do that – but he has been certainly one of the most prolific and one of the most ferocious, creating works with that draw on a vast array of hand-made and computer-made sources to blast out sounds of massive force and intensity (although sometimes, too, of surprising quietude and even an eerie sort of peace).

On this weekend's show, I will be surveying some of his colossal career, including some of his very early works arising from his interest in dadaism, as well as music that explores his relationship with Japanese pornography, his fierce advocacy for animal rights, and his evolving aesthetic as new technologies enable him to create new sounds and to push noise to the very limits of what the human ear can tolerate.

In the second half of the show I'll be playing his complete Kookaburra, recorded live during his visit to Sydney in May 2012 – a recording in which, if you listen very closely at the end, you might even here my voice amongst the audience's cheers.

I hope you can join me for a night with Merzbow, this Sunday evening at 10.00 PM (AEST) on PBS. You can tune in at 106.7 on the Melbourne FM band, or on PBS digital radio, or you can listen live from anywhere in the world via the PBS app or online. The show will also be available to listen back to, along with its playlist, here on the website shortly after it has gone live to air.

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