In 2017, Skaņu Mežs will celebrate its 15th anniversary. The festival will take place at the music house “Daile” on October 13th and 14th with an opening event on October 6 at the art museum Riga Bourse. The first announced act of this festival edition is the duo of Merzbow, the Japanese noise musician, held as one of the most important artists in the field, and Balázs Pándi, a drummer active in experimental metal, noise and free jazz. They will play on October 14.
Masami Akita, better known as Merzbow, is a Japanese electronic music artist and composer, as well as a book writer and editor for various publications. Merzbow began in 1979 as a duo consisting of Masami Akita and Kiyoshi Mizutani, initially playing Industrial music, which was not well-recognized during their time. They began garnering recognition in The ’80s with their record label, Lowest Music and Arts, as well as its spiritual successor, ZSF Produkt, which released material produced by other industrial artists. During this era, the duo began producing recordings for various international labels. In 1993, however, Kiyoshi left to pursue a solo career.
As of the present time, Merzbow has released over 350 studio recordings. Merzbow’s music is a matter of debate among electronic music fans, owing to its highly experimental and abstract nature. He is frequently cited as an early pioneer of industrial music in the ’80s, alongside acts such as Throbbing Gristle and Whitehouse. Due to this, he has gained substantial attention in underground electronic music circles, with many indie acts drawing inspiration from his works. However, he has also made forays into ambient-ish music and musique concrete. It is also arguable that he had a role in establishing/influencing the intelligent dance music (IDM) genre when it was still an unbuilt trope, before artists like Autechre and Aphex Twin entered the spotlight.
Since 2009, Merzbow often performs in duo with Hungarian drummer Balázs Pándi, who has worked and toured with various acts from all around the world including Venetian Snares, Otto von Schirach, Last Step, To Live and Shave in L.A., The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Zu. He also played drums for the Blood of Heroes project. His current projects include Italian doom band Obake, Metallic Taste of Blood (featuring Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, Eraldo Bernocchi of Obake and Jamie Saft), and Slobber Pup (Saft, Joe Morris and Trevor Dunn). He has also been playing solo shows at selected festivals under his own name since 2012.
Tickets to the festival can be purchased here: ticketservice.lv. Advance sales ticket to a single evening costs 15 EUR, while a two-day pass to October 13 and 14 costs 20 EUR.
The Skaņu Mežs festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Latvia, State Culture Capital Foundation, the Municipality of Riga, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Kulturkontakt Nord, as well as iRobot, Valmiermuiža and Red Bull Music Academy. Skaņu Mežs is also a member of the SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art, supported by the „Creative Europe” program of the European Union, and I.C.A.S., an international network of festivals, devoted to adventurous sound.