“If by noise we mean music unpleasant to the ear, pop is noise to me,” claimed Masami Akita. The stage name (Merzbow) of that artist, now active already for more than thirty years, has for many become synonymous with the noise music genre.
Music created under the wide umbrella name of “noise” depends on the tensions that appear between the dynamic and the static. It frequently makes the impression of an overwhelming monolith, and some of its varieties, such as harsh noise wall, tend towards maximum stasis. Merzbow’s artistic strategies, rooted in the traditions of twentieth-century avantgarde and continuing the concepts of dadaists and surrealists, aim to take the listener by surprise. Akita makes use of contemporary forms of instruments: today it is a laptop computer, and in 1982—the time of Expanded Music—damaged tapes, television signal, loops on a mixer, drum machines, and synthesizers. Nonetheless, he uses these tools to fulfil artistic aims formulated early in the twentieth century: unexpected clashes of harsh sounds are meant to produce amazement and admiration, like “the chance encounter of an umbrella with a sewing machine on a dissection table.” Out of the apparent monotony of audio feedbacks, screeches and noises there emerges a diversity, and out of nonaction, successive layers and motifs. The cycle of “manipulations” that make up Expanded Music is built of condensed, at times even claustrophobic sounds, which live their own, looped, clamorous, multifaceted life. The composition was inspired by Stan Brakhage’s animations, whose novel, independent film language had been created by means of deformations of film tape.