the merzbox is much less impressive than i imagined
Much to my surprise, the Merzbox --- the 50 CD box set of Merzbow's music spanning 1979 to 1997 --- is still available. Not a reprint, or a digital version, it's the same $450 limited edition box set that went on sale in the year 2000. It's legendary for being one of the most extensive and expensive box sets ever produced (as an actual product rather than a stunt --- the Residents fridge doesn't count.)
I'm surprised they haven't sold through the stock in 22 years, I'd have figured there'd be at least 1000 fringe music collector weirdos with more money than sense willing to shell out half a grand on this sort of ostentatious set piece by now.
I was curious if there were any photos of what the set actually looks like. The first place I thought to check was ebay, and there is indeed one for sale. The price tag is also $450. I wonder why the seller thinks someone would pay full price for a used product instead of getting one of the remaining "new" ones from the official store. Maybe they're counting on others assuming, like me, that all 1000 have been sold. I wonder how many are left. The one for sale is #640, so at least (1000-that many).
Anyway, when I saw the pictures of what you actually get, I was severely disappointed. For that price I was expecting 50 individual cds with jewel cases and booklets packed in a nice wooden or metal box one could display on the shelf, or at least some kind of custom CD holder. What you actually get is an incredibly cheap and generic looking fabric CD binder that looks like something you'd buy at Target for $10 and keep in your car. The "box" is a generic black leatherette (or, uh, "'fetish' black rubber") zipper case that reminds me of the trapper keeper I used in high school.
The CD covers themselves are all unique and cool-looking, but I don't know how you're supposed to know which one is which. None of the discs or sleeves seem to be labeled or even numbered. I assume the main reason for the book is so you have an index and know what you're even listening to.
Not that I guess it it matters, because they all pretty much sound the same. I'm sorry. There's a playlist on youtube that has all 50 discs contained in the Merzbox. Of course, no one's listening to all that, so I followed the advice of phthora on rateyourmusic.com, who listened to and reviewed all 50 discs. I listened to the ones that got five stars, and I don't like any of them.
I like Merzbow's collaborations with Boris, because Boris composes and performs music, and I like to listen to music. That's the key difference, I think, between Merzbow and other experimental noise music I enjoy: I like noise when it has the word "music" after it, or a genre of music, like noise rock. I don't like "noise" without any qualifiers. I want the sound to at least be shaped like something that humans get pleasure from listening to.
So I don't need or want any of the albums, they're packaged in a cheap CD binder, the T-shirt won't fit me, the "medallion" is cheap-looking and aesthetically uninteresting, the 2000-era CD-ROM that comes with it definitely won't run on a modern computer... I think I'm going to have to pass on the merzbox (audience gasps)
But hey, luckily, a couple years ago Merzbow released another box set, this time on 60 CDs --- the imaginatively titled 10x6=60CDBox --- and someone on Discogs is selling a copy for a mere $10 per disc. This one looks a lot nicer. Is it just all the same tracks from the Merzbox with different labels? Who knows? No one will actually listen to all this shit. Except phthora. Thanks, phthora 🦝