In the world of space opera, Merzbow’s Strange City is a defining work in the genre. Inspired by the sci-fi and fantasy television serials of the Fifties, Akita’s music is relentlessly forward-moving, yet always eerie. Rather than the usual soaring drone, this album has long tracks that let the listener acclimate to the ruthless noise. The eerie ambience of the final track is almost surreal and the track titles reflect that.
The band’s music is highly experimental and features several references to early cosmic music. The album contains numerous samples of Sun Ra’s earliest recordings and includes a saxophone solo that begins with an overlapping saxophone. The resulting cacophony is truly awe-inspiring, despite its slick production. The songs are varied, but all have their share of’space rock’ and “noise’ influences.
Merzbow’s Strange City LP includes three tracks, all of which are titled as “parts of a graunular jazz” and lack much distinct character. Although the LP has little uniqueness, it has elements that are compelling. The closer is a highlight, due to its relative restraint. It’s like a ballad by Merzbow about Sun Ra. Without Sun Ra, Strange City wouldn’t have happened.
Another noteworthy feature of the Strange City album is its range of sounds. With elements of noise from saxophone to ambient, Merzbow have incorporated sounds from the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Some of their songs are reminiscent of Sun Ra’s “The Book of Life”; others are a combination of ambient, electronic, and classical music. It’s an impressive debut and an excellent album from the group. It has plenty of diversity, so listen to the whole album and find the genre that suits you.
The album features a wide variety of sounds, with a distinctly dark tone on the first track. The second track is a slow, haunting droning noise track. The third track, “Still Life,” is another example of the band’s use of saxophones, acoustic instruments, and synthetic sounds. Akita’s wailing horn echoes through the song.
The title track of Strange City features two saxophones and a chanting choir. Akita’s voice is very distinct and recognizable, while the music is undoubtedly experimental. The Stranger’s inner turmoil is a real challenge, but he finds something true in his newfound home. The album is not an easy listen. It requires a deep level of faith to survive in this strange city.
Strange City is an LP containing three tracks. All three are titled as parts of “Granular jazz” but are less distinctive. However, the album closes with an LP that has its own unique elements. While the album is mostly a mishmash of noise, it contains an impressive amount of ambient music, which sounds remarkably similar to the noises of the sun. With the eerie atmosphere of this record, the album is an exceptional album by Merzbow.