Fantastic archival trove from Masami Akita’s Merzbow, restoring heady/ritualistic electro-acoustic works from 1981 in an edition of only 199 copies: this sounds nothing like the walls of electronic noise that constitute ‘classic’ Merzbow sides like Noisembryo and is drawn from re-processed live sessions from Akita and early duo partner Kiyoshi Mizutani that were originally presented as part of the legendary 10 cassette set, Merzbow – Collection. The effect is much subtler and more hallucinogenic than later works, with sound sources drawn from recorded tapes, audio feedback, percussion, metal and other acoustic instruments. Indeed the first side has a haunted basil Kirchin/early Nurse With Wound feel with a distant, forlorn piano dosed with high feedback tones and skittering tape edits including eerie snatches of opera song before bleeding into what could almost be a recording of Ornette’s Town Hall gig as recorded through six feet of concrete. There’s a hazy appeal to the recording that somehow softens the electro/acoustic barbarity and at points the improvised sounds are closer to something like, say, a Japanese take on the Music Improvisation Company than Violent Onsen Geisha. I still maintain that the early Merzbow acoustic duo sides are some of the most exciting and inventive of Akita’s career and this is a massively persuasive side, a potent combination of noise, free improvisation, electro-acoustic composition and industrial surrealism that at the time had little parallel outside of possibly Nurse With Wound. The set comes pressed on 140g vinyl in a black silver silkscreen sleeve on luxury 160g paper. Highly recommended.