40 Years Ago: MERZBOW records OM Electrique (First Ever Recording)

Daily Noise - / 2019

40 Years Ago: MERZBOW records OM Electrique (First Ever Recording)

Masami Akita recorded the very first MERZBOW sounds on this day in 1979.

OM Electrique is the earliest MERZBOW recording but remained unreleased until 2000 when it was included as part of the Merzbox collection.

I started playing around 1972, in a studio, with schoolmates from my junior high school. We mainly played blues-rock influenced by Cream and Jimi Hendrix. I was on drums. From around 1973, I began leaning towards improvised music. It was around then that I began playing with Kiyoshi Mizutani. The key influences during that period were King Crimson's Earthbound, Albert Ayler's Bells, and The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat. I started listening to more free jazz, free improvised music and contemporary music around the time I was in senior high school. As my band started to play more improvised music, I began rejecting the act of playing, and as in conceptual art, eventually rejecting the act of musical performance altogether.

It was around then that I first heard Pierre Schaeffer's Symphonie pour un homme seul, and this had tremendous impact on me. I was also quite influenced by Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, Xenakis' Electro-Acoustic Music and Walter Marchetti's Homemade Electric Music, and began producing tape music myself, using only non-instrumental sound = NOISE.

Punk rock came about around 1976, followed by new wave and alternative music, and in that vein there were the industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and SPK, but I differed from them in that I was creating my tapes using field recordings of sounds I recorded in my environment. The Sony Walkman came out at that time, ushering in a new era of the cassette tape as a primary medium. That's how I came to make this terribly cheap noise music for cassette tape. Those were the beginnings of Merzbow, around 1979.

Masami Akita / Merzbow interview, Self-titled, 2019