No Music, No Message, No Meaning: Japanoise

“I wanted to compose real surrealistic music in a non-musical way. Surrealism is also reaching unconsciousness. Noise is the primitive and collective consciousness of music. My composition is automatism, not improvisation.”

Pornography is the unconsciousness of sex. Noise is the unconsciousness of music. Merzbow is erotic like a car crash can be related to genital intercourse. The sound of Merzbow is like Orgone energy– the color of shiny silver. ”

Masami Akita, AKA Merzbow [1]


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Zachary Eller

Oscar Wilde’s observation that “the whole of Japan is a pure invention” seems apt when I think of my early impressions of the country. From a young age, Japanese products created for me a vast world of fantasy, an alternative world. As with most of my peers, the fascination began with an obsession for Pokemon, and soon included a broader circle of Japanese anime and video games. The “Japaneseness” of these cultural products became like a mark of authenticity, the Japanese Pokemon cards or undubbed episodes of Gundam somehow stirring my young imagination, revealing a world with which my parents were unfamiliar, a distant, fantastic land that offered an escape both comforting and vaguely threatening. Discovering Visual Kei in middle school, a style of Japanese rock featuring androgynous aesthetics, furthered my impression that Japanese cultural products presented something wholly “other.” Appropriating these products in my own life, often ignorant of their original sociological context, served as a signifier of outsider status. [Read more…]