13 Japanese Birds

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13 Japanese Birds
Studio album series by Merzbow
Released January 2009 – January 2010
Recorded October 2008 – November 2009 at Munemi House, Tokyo
Genre Noise
Length 721:56 (standard)
760:02 (Ecobag)
Label Important
Producer Masami Akita
Merzbow chronology
Somei...
(2009)
13 Japanese Birds
(2009)
Hiranya
(2009)

13 Japanese Birds is a 15 album series by the Japanese noise musician Merzbow. It was inspired by Olivier Messiaen's Catalogue d'oiseaux (Catalog of birds), but has no direct musical relationship.[1]

Release history[edit]

The series originally consisted of 13 albums released on a monthly basis from January 2009 to January 2010. They were also recorded one a month, and Masami Akita frequently revisited older recordings. It was also part of his then-recent return to live drums.[1] Jenny Akita's cover art depicts illustrated birds on top of photographs. Each CD is limited to 1,000 copies.

The series was also available by subscription; as just the CDs, or with a custom-made bamboo box. Also available only with purchase of the box was an acrylic-on-bamboo painting by Akita himself.[2]

In March 2010, Important released Ecobag/13 Birds in a Bag +1, this set included the original 13 CDs, a bonus CDR of additional material from the sessions, and a piece of original xerox art made by Akita in the mid-90s. All packaged together in a tote bag and limited to 200 copies.[3] After the Ecobag sold out, the label released the Ecoblock or Bird Block in April 2012, with just the original 13 albums and a T-shirt.[4]

In 2009, Important announced that an LP named Jigokuhen would be released to celebrate the completion of the series.[5] Originally scheduled for the first anniversary of the completion of the original series (January 2011), but it was delayed until March. The album is the 15th and final volume of the Japanese Birds series, but is a stand-alone release.[6]

Albums[edit]

Suzume: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 1[edit]

Suzume
Studio album by Merzbow
Released January 27, 2009 (2009-01-27)
Recorded October–November 2008
Merzbow chronology
Somei...
(2009)
Suzume
(2009)
Fukurou
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Musique Machine 3/5 stars[7]

The title refers to the sparrow ( suzume?). "Tori Uta" was previously released as "<羽毛に纏わる水滴無限循環> Dedicated to アヒル (Duck)" on Zoundtrack by Ukawanimation!.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Red Bird of Summer Part 1"   19:42
2. "Fandangos in Space"   5:41
3. "Tori Uta"   6:24
4. "Red Bird of Summer Part 2"   17:06
Total length:
48:53

[8]

Fukurou: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 2[edit]

Fukurou
Studio album by Merzbow
Released February 24, 2009 (2009-02-24)
Recorded December 2008
Merzbow chronology
Suzume
(2009)
Fukurou
(2009)
Yurikamome
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[9]
Musique Machine 5/5 stars[10]

The title refers to the owl ( fukurō?). "Gorosukehoukou" and "Noritsukehousei" are Japanese onomatopoeia for the sounds of owls.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Gorosukehoukou"   22:18
2. "Variation No. 1"   9:51
3. "Variation No. 2"   9:49
4. "Noritsukehousei"   16:49
Total length:
58:47

[8]

Yurikamome: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 3[edit]

Yurikamome
Studio album by Merzbow
Released March 24, 2009 (2009-03-24)
Recorded January 2009
Merzbow chronology
Fukurou
(2009)
Yurikamome
(2009)
Karasu
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[11]
Musique Machine 3/5 stars[12]

The title refers to the Black-headed Gull (百合鴎 yurikamome?, literally "lily seagull").

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Black Headed Gull"   31:42
2. "February 2002"   13:33
3. "The Angel of the Odd"   8:05
Total length:
53:20

[8]

Karasu: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 4[edit]

Karasu
Studio album by Merzbow
Released April 28, 2009 (2009-04-28)
Recorded February 2009
Merzbow chronology
Yurikamome
(2009)
Karasu
(2009)
Hiranya
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Musique Machine 3/5 stars[13]

The title refers to the crow ( karasu?).

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Argus"   19:40
2. "Stone the Crows"   27:35
3. "Morgue"   16:56
Total length:
64:11

[8]

Uzura: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 5[edit]

Uzura
Studio album by Merzbow
Released May 20, 2009 (2009-05-20)
Recorded March 2009
Merzbow chronology
Hiranya
(2009)
Uzura
(2009)
Tempi / Matatabi
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[14]

The title refers to the Japanese Quail ( uzura?). The song titles refer to a March 2009 cull after the bird flu virus was found.[15]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Requiem for the 259,000 Quails Culled at a Farm in Toyohashi Part 1"   15:54
2. "Requiem for the 259,000 Quails Culled at a Farm in Toyohashi Part 2"   27:37
3. "Requiem for the 259,000 Quails Culled at a Farm in Toyohashi Part 3"   12:35
Total length:
56:06

[8]

Kamo: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 6[edit]

Kamo
Studio album by Merzbow
Released June 23, 2009 (2009-06-23)
Recorded April 2009
Merzbow chronology
Tempi / Matatabi
(2009)
Kamo
(2009)
Don't Steal My Coat
(2009)

The title refers to the duck ( kamo?). The cover depicts the Tufted Duck. The first track is a protest against the wild-bird cull instituted by Tokyo Governor Shintarō Ishihara.[1] Akasaka is a district in Minato, Tokyo.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Bird Killer Governor Ishihara Deserves to Die"   16:44
2. "Wilderness in Akasaka"   19:39
3. "Heresy"   15:57
Total length:
52:20

[8]

Kujakubato: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 7[edit]

Kujakubato
Studio album by Merzbow
Released August 5, 2009 (2009-08-05)
Recorded May 2009
Merzbow chronology
Don't Steal My Coat
(2009)
Kujakubato
(2009)
Kokuchou
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[16]

The title refers to the Fantail pigeon (孔雀鳩 kujakubato?, literally "peacock pigeon"). The bird design on the cover was previously used on Fantail. The album was delayed until the first week of August.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Wind of Pain"   7:50
2. "Pigeon Walk Part 1"   10:15
3. "Pigeon Walk Part 2"   7:58
4. "Dove Festival"   14:07
5. "Bird Droppings on Your Head"   5:52
Total length:
46:02

[8]

Kokuchou: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 8[edit]

Kokuchou
Studio album by Merzbow
Released August 21, 2009 (2009-08-21)
Recorded June 2009
Merzbow chronology
Kujakubato
(2009)
Kokuchou
(2009)
Hiyodori
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[17]

The title refers to the Black Swan (黒鳥 kokuchō?). "Ushiwaka 2" is a reworking of a track from Yoshinotsune.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Mesmerism"   5:33
2. "Black Swan"   24:03
3. "Colored Rain"   13:22
4. "Ushiwaka 2"   7:25
Total length:
50:23

[8]

Hiyodori: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 9[edit]

Hiyodori
Studio album by Merzbow
Released September 30, 2009 (2009-09-30)
Recorded July 2009
Merzbow chronology
Kokuchou
(2009)
Hiyodori
(2009)
Niwatori
(2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[18]

The title refers to the Brown-eared Bulbul ( hiyodori?).

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Hiyodori"   30:20
2. "Across the Earth"   16:18
3. "Purple Triangle"   17:45
Total length:
64:23

[8]

Niwatori: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 10[edit]

Niwatori
Studio album by Merzbow
Released November 2009 (2009-11)
Recorded August 2009
Merzbow chronology
Hiyodori
(2009)
Niwatori
(2009)
Microkosmos Volume 1
(2009)

The title refers to the chicken ( niwatori?). The album was delayed until the first week of November due to printing errors.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Niwatori Obsession 1"   29:32
2. "Niwatori Obsession 2"   18:19
3. "Niwatori Obsession 3"   14:48
Total length:
62:39

[8]

Shirasagi: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 11[edit]

Shirasagi
Studio album by Merzbow
Released November 2009 (2009-11)
Recorded September 2009
Merzbow chronology
Microkosmos Volume 1
(2009)
Shirasagi
(2009)
Tsubame
(2009)

The title refers to the egret (白鷺 shirasagi?). The cover depicts the Asahi Beer Hall.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Transformed into Food"   16:28
2. "Once the Human Meat Is Done, Cut It Up and Mix with the Vegetable Curry"   11:10
3. "Dismemberment of Nature"   14:37
4. "Chained"   16:11
Total length:
58:25

[8]

Tsubame: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 12[edit]

Tsubame
Studio album by Merzbow
Released December 2009 (2009-12)
Recorded October 2009
Merzbow chronology
Shirasagi
(2009)
Tsubame
(2009)
Chabo
(2010)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[19]

The title refers to the Barn Swallow ( tsubame?).

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Destroy the Cages"   17:24
2. "Burn Down Research Facilities"   21:38
3. "Escape from Captors"   16:00
Total length:
55:02

[8]

Chabo: 13 Japanese Birds Pt. 13[edit]

Chabo
Studio album by Merzbow
Released January 2010 (2010-01)
Recorded November 2009
Merzbow chronology
Tsubame
(2009)
Chabo
(2010)
Another Merzbow Records
(2010)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[20]

The title refers to the Japanese Bantam (矮鶏 chabo?).

An unreleased work called "samidara1" was played during an event at ohrenhoch in Berlin, Merzbow described it as "using the method of several granular synthesis programs and random process of the composition.", and referenced Graft, Chabo, Jigokuhen, and Ouroboros as having the same concept.[21]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Resurrection"   51:24

[8]

天鵞絨の鳥[edit]

天鵞絨の鳥
Studio album by Merzbow
Released March 17, 2010 (2010-03-17)
Recorded 2009
Merzbow chronology
Graft
(2010)
Ecobag
(2010)
Ouroboros
(2010)

This is the bonus CDR that was included exclusively with the Ecobag, only 200 copies were made. It's also considered to be the 14th album of the series. Subscribers of the original series were able to download it from the label for free.

The album title transliterates to "Tengajū no tori" and means "bird velvet", while the track titles translate to "first song" and "second song".

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "第一曲"   16:33
2. "第二曲"   20:33
Total length:
37:06

[8]

Jigokuhen[edit]

Jigokuhen is an album released to commemorate the first anniversary of the completion of the original series (January 2011), but it was delayed until March. It is the 15th and final volume of the Japanese Birds series, but is a stand-alone release.[6]

Personnel[edit]

  • Masami Akita – performer, bamboo paintings, xerox art
  • Jenny Akita – artwork, photography

Fukurou lists additional instrument credits:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Batty, Roger. "Interview: The Birds of Noise". Musique Machine. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Bamboo Box release page". Important Records. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Ecobag release page". Important Records. Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ "imprec294 Merzbow, Bird Block 13CD". Important Records. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ Jigokuhen announcement on Twitter
  6. ^ a b "Jigokuhen release page". Important Records. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ Batty, Roger. "Review: Suzume". Musique Machine. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Merzbow - Ecobag/13 Birds In A Bag +1 (CD, Album)". Discogs. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ Couture, François. "Review: Fukurou". Allmusic. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  10. ^ Batty, Roger. "Review: Fukurou". Musique Machine. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  11. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review: Yurikamome". Allmusic. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  12. ^ Batty, Roger. "Review: Yurikamome". Musique Machine. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  13. ^ Batty, Roger. "Review: Karasu". Musique Machine. Retrieved March 22, 2010. 
  14. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review: Uzura". Allmusic. Retrieved February 14, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Bird flu prompts quail cull in Aichi". The Japan Times. Retrieved November 10, 2009. 
  16. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review: Kujakubato". Allmusic. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  17. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review: Kokuchou". Allmusic. Retrieved February 14, 2010. 
  18. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review: Hiyodori". Allmusic. Retrieved February 14, 2010. 
  19. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review: Tsubame". Allmusic. Retrieved March 26, 2010. 
  20. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review: Chabo". Allmusic. Retrieved March 15, 2010. 
  21. ^ "samidara1". ohrenhoch. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 

External links[edit]