masonna.jpgYamazaki began home recording in 1987. He took the name Masonna for his solo noise project, and at the same time set up the independent label Coquette, on which he released several cassettes. Between '89 and '90, his debut LP and CD were released on the Kyoto-based label Vanilla Records. In addition, he gradually cemented his reputation on the underground scene through extremely limited (between 1 and 10 copies) 7' acetate releases cut on a portable cutting machine, a bootleg LP (split with Violent Onsen Geisha) on RRR (USA), and many appearances on compilations from both Japanese and overseas noise labels such as Beast 666 (Japan) and Unclean Production (Germany). Before beginning Masonna, Yamazaki listened to a lot of hard rock, death metal, hardcore punk, grindcore, and power electronics, and it was his unique digestion and interpretation of the original energy that this music possessed that led to his development of an unparalleled style of condensed fury. Moment by moment he emits screams and switchbacks of razor-sharp sound. This continuous stream of dazzling, rockist, catastrophic freeze-frames coalesces into an ultra-accelerated noise storm that is truly the ultimate one-man rock band.

Masonna began serious live performance in 1991, coupling over-the-top physical action with harsh noise created using just a microphone and the bare minimum of equipment. With the physical part of these performances Yamazaki would take his life into his hands - in tiny live venues he would run around like a madman, leaping into the air and flicking switches on his effects units as he landed. These were harsh and extremely violent events, invariably involving damage to both equipment and flesh. As a result, performances were usually curtailed after just a few minutes, but the effect of their moment-by-moment energy on anyone who witnessed them was intense. Yamazaki soon became known as the "jumping noise performer" and the "rock god of the noise world".

On the other hand, Masonna expanded his musical horizons with finely detailed studio recordings that made skilful use of cut-ups, with an added edge of psychedelic revivalism. In 1993 Jojo Hiroshige (Hijokaidan) released a Masonna CD on his Alchemy label, the holy temple of Japanoise. The extremity of the expressive medium on this release rapidly made Masonna a talking point outside Japan. In the same year, Masonna cemented his reputation with dates on the West Coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley) and live radio performances. The following year he made two further trips to the West Coast, and in 1996 he played on a coast-to-coast tour (Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Cleveland, New York, Boston) with Merzbow. He followed this in 1997 with dates in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne), and in 1999 with two concerts in London. The legendary UK radio DJ John Peel invited Masonna to appear at his Peel Session Live event at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The concert was subsequently broadcast on BBC radio. An MTV program presented by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore included clips of Masonna performing live. Overseas labels including Relapse, V (USA), Alien 8 (Canada), Blast First and Cold Spring (UK) have released albums by Masonna, and he has made appearances on compilations throughout the US and Europe.

In Japan, Yamazaki has promoted several regular noise events at the Bears live venue in Osaka. Events like Gathering of Noise Galore and Noise May-Day have featured performances by Masonna himself and many overseas noise artists, including Solid Eye, The Haters, Sudden Infant, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, and Putrefier. In addition, Masonna has supported musicians like Beck, Slipknot, Faust, Caroliner, Destroy All Monsters, and Blixa Bargeld on their Japanese dates.

(Text: Higashiseto Satoru/ English Translation: Alan Cummings)
[Autumn 2002]