The thirties were an interesting time; full of invention and life, yet also the age of the Great Depression. Here is the story of 1930 in a nutshell:

  • 1930:
    • The Nazi party places second in German political elections, but Adolf Hitler is kept from his seat in the Reichstag because he is an Austrian citizen. The Nazis are still not in charge of Germany. Adolf Hitler will take power later on, and lead the Nazis into the second world war. Few know that Adolf Hitler actually went to college to become a painter, and created a number of works that sold at Sothebys for between 500,000 and one million USD each in the late 1980s.

    • In South Africa, white women gain the right to vote, but blacks are still excluded under the regime that would soon be called apartheid. The white Dutch and British took over South Africa in 1820, and held rule for one and a half centuries.

      During apartheid rule about 14% of the country's land area was set aside for blacks in independent territories, allegedly to allow them self-government and cultural preservation. These homelands were used to give the white government greater control and to exclude blacks from the political process. Until 1994, South Africa was governed by the white minority with minimal mixed-race representation and virtually no black representation. In April of 1994, the country became a fully multiracial democracy.

    • Pluto, the ninth planet, is discovered by astronomers. Pluto is the 9th and most distant known planet from the sun, with an elliptical orbit usually lying beyond that of Neptune.

      The existence of an unknown planet was first proposed by Percival Lowell on the basis of observed oddities of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. He began searching for the planet in 1905, although he did not publish his calculations of its predicted position until 1914.

    • Virginia Woolf publishes her essay "A Room of One's Own" on behalf of women's rights. It becomes a topic of conversation, but never actually affects any government actions.

      In October 1928, Virginia Woolf was invited to deliver lectures at Newnham College and Girton College, which at that time were the only women's colleges at Cambridge. These talks, on the topic of Women and Fiction, were expanded and revised into "A Room of One's Own", which was printed in 1930. The title has become a virtual cliché in our culture, a fact that testifies to the book's importance and its enduring influence. Perhaps the single most important work of feminist literary criticism, "A Room of One's Own" explores the historical and contextual contingencies of literary achievement.

    • President Herbert Hoover signs the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act, weakening the already failing global economy. This brought the U.S. tariff to the highest protective level yet in the history of the United States. President Hoover desired a limited revision of tariffs with general increases on farm products and adjustment of a few industrial rates. A congressional joint committee, however, in compromising the differences between a high Senate tariff bill and a higher House tariff bill, arrived at new high rates by generally adopting the increased rates of the Senate on farm products and those of the House on manufactures. Despite wide protest, the tariff act, called the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act because of its joint sponsorship by Representative Willis C. Hawley and Senator Reed Smoot, both Republicans, was signed in June 1930 by President Hoover. The act brought retaliatory tariff acts from foreign countries, U.S. foreign trade suffered a sharp decline, and the depression intensified.

    • In American art, Grant Wood paints American Gothic. Grant Wood studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and in Paris for 12 years, a little longer than most people spend in college. In Munich, 1928, he was influenced to create many of his works through German and Flemish primitive painting. Subsequently, in the 1930s, he created his "American scene" works in which stern-faced people and detailed landscapes offer decorative images of the rural Midwest. He taught at the State University of Iowa and was director of "WPA" art projects in Iowa toward the end of his career.

    • Over 1,300 American banks fail and unemployment exceeds 4 million as the Depression sinks lower. See The Great Depression for a good explanation.

    • In Jamaica, Rastafarians proclaim Haile Selassie the messiah. Rastafarianism is a religious-cultural movement that began in the 1930s. Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie, also named Ras Tafari, is the messiah. Haile Selassie was last emperor of Ethiopia (d. 1975), who left total chaos after he passed away. They tend to reject European culture and ideas and are particularly noted for their use of marijuana in religious events. Reggae music is heavily influenced by Rastafarianism. There are around 180,000 Rastafarians worldwide, as of the 2000 world estimate.

    • Uruguay wins the first World Cup for soccer, defeating Argentina, 4-2. Two players were removed within the first fifteen minutes of the game for fighting, which resulted in a broken jaw. The altercation began over an referee's incorrect call, that the referee corrected before the fight. The game was held in Argentina.

    Forward to 1931

    Sources: (compiled for all of 1930-1939)
    The Expanded Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright© 2003 (used for many sources)
    The History Channel
    The Great Depression
    American Institute of Art

I thought I would be able to handle it. I've listened to some of the most extremely a-musical music there is. I've seen Melt Banana live. I've dug Negativland's most fractured audio collages. I've listened to the off-tune warblings of The Shaggs, and the avant-weirdness of The Residents. I even listend to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music in its entireity. Furthermore, I've loved them all. Yet, I was completely unprepared for the audio assault that is Merzbow's 1930.

I guarantee, 1930 is like no album you have listened to before, unless you've already heard Merzbow, I suppose. From the first second, your ears are penetrated by waves of intense, a-rhythmic sound. There are no lyrics. There is no easily defined song structure. There aren't even songs, in the traditional sense. It is music, only in the sense that it is organized sound. A combination of electronic and acoustic instruments, power tools, and broken tape machines seem to be responsible. It sounds like standing in a recording studio during an earthquake.

The first listen culminated in me hitting "Stop" barely a minute into the title track. The second was abandoned just as quickly. Yet, I persevered. I listened closely, searching for meaning, a pattern among the chaos. It was like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. 1930 evokes nothing more but pure emotion. Not hate, certainly not love, but emotion. In the quiet parts, rare as they are, there is a sense of malaise. In its most extreme sections, there is a sense of violent rage. 1930 cries out, begging to be acknowledged. It pulls no punches. There is only the noise.


  1. Intro
  2. 1930
  3. Munchen
  4. Degradation Of Tapes
  5. Iron, Glass, Blocks and White Lights

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