Merzbow (メルツバウ, Merutsubau) is a Japanese noise project started in 1979 by Masami Akita (秋田 昌美, Akita Masami). Merzbow is best known for a style of harsh, confrontational noise as exemplified on the 1996 release Pulse Demon. Since 1980, Akita has released over 400 recordings and has collaborated with various artists.
The name Merzbow comes from the German dada artist Kurt Schwitters' artwork Merzbau, in which Schwitters transformed the interior of his house using found objects. The name was chosen to reflect Akita's dada influence and junk art aesthetic. In addition to this, Akita has cited a wide range of musical influences from progressive rock, heavy metal, free jazz, and early electronic music to non-musical influences like dadaism, surrealism, and fetish culture. Since the early 2000s, he has been inspired by animal rights and environmentalism, and began to follow a vegan, straight edge lifestyle.
As well as being a prolific musician, he has been a writer and editor for several books and magazines in Japan, and has written several books of his own. He has written about a variety of subjects, mostly about music, modern art, and underground culture. His more renowned works were on the topics of BDSM and Japanese bondage. Other art forms Akita has been interested in include painting, photography, filmmaking, and Butoh dance.
In 2000, Extreme Records released the 50 CD box set known as the Merzbox. Akita's work has been the subject of several remix albums and at least one tribute album. This, among other achievements, has helped Merzbow to be regarded by some as the "most important artist in noise".