Sunday, 25 September 2011

Esforzarse Más

Noise (as a genre) is so often for me an example of a really fucking good idea done astonishingly badly. Even though an awful lot of my favourite artists get lumped with that particular label, the reason I tend to love their music so much is because it almost never conforms to the expected norms of what noise bands are supposed to do, noise being an ingredient as opposed to the aim, process as opposed to result. Making a fucking racket is a piece of piss, creating something meaningful, emotionally resonant, beautiful even, from such ingredients is a little harder. The musical counterpoint to Abstract Expressionism if you like, anyone can splat a load of paint around, but it took a Jackson Pollock to take that method and apply it in a manner which elevated his anti-technique (for want of a better term, I know it's clunky) beyond simple negation or refusal into a communicative, interrogative art.

Which is exactly what Noise should do, transcend it's obvious role as a genre of transgression, actually strive to be more than just a sonic middle finger, a dumb, meaningless roar of impotent fury, because that's too fucking easy and it isn't fucking 1980 any more. I'm so fucking bored of gigs that sound like nothing more than the sound of a ZX Spectrum tape loading at 160 decibels played by a Linux developer with a laptop and a chip on their shoulder, and I'm even fucking more sick of "shocking" titles and cover imagery*. Oh goody, Pissflap Deathcamp have a new cassette out? In a limited edition of 23? Fuck off you morons. Admittedly, I'm exaggerating for effect, but there's still enough of that mentality left around these days to rankle. As I said, it ain't fucking 1980 anymore, and imagery that worked as an immature, teenage roar of disgust at what was a fucking shitty country to be that age in at that point in time looks pretty fucking silly when it's still being employed 30 years down the line by socially retarded fuckwits who once heard a Whitehouse record and got completely the wrong idea.

Noise is no longer the supposedly clandestine, esoteric genre it once was, and so many musicians are using it's methods to create stunning music. Think of Campbell Kneale's wonderful Birchville Cat Motel and Our Love Will Destroy The World projects, where the squalling and scraping walls of noise don't just sit there but are corralled into huge, ascending psychedelic vortices cut through with subdued barely shifting clouds of minimalist tonefloat. Or the many guises of Matt Bower, a man capable of running the gamut from the beautiful, starlit, folk and kosmiche-tinged Sunroof! to the most furious, mind-destroying walls of guitar lunacy ever fucking heard, I mean, if it's sheer fucking noise you want, recent Skullflower is absolutely untouchable, because behind the (at first, seemingly) stuck-throttle intensity and total fucking amplifier obliteration lurks a fucking brilliant musician, who knows exactly what (and why) he's doing, is actually capable of channelling such brutal base material into something both beautiful and forbidding, dragging you in as opposed to just smacking you round the ears. These are just two examples, but there's so much more good shit out there, it's just that you often have to wade through huge piles of crap to get to the gold.

And don't fucking get me started on Merzbow...

*It also totally devalues music which actually explores uncomfortable or disturbing themes in an intelligent manner. I fucking love Whitehouse, and their last three albums in particular represent a pinnacle in this area, barbed, vicious and harrowing they may be, but they're a whole lot more than that because they take you somewhere difficult, somewhere you didn't necessarily want (or think you were going) to be, make you actually think and feel something as opposed to just bellowing in yr face, which in the end is no different than pissing in the wind for all it communicates.


  1. I agree...I dig it the most but, if I want nothing more than a racket...we have several amorous feral cats, and coons looking for scrap*, in the neighborhood. Stop trying to deny certain aural realities.

    Still, it's ability to irritate can't be entirely dismissed.

    I was witness to one of the funniest moments in the history of music. It was Pavements last show in New Orleans...supported by the Dirty Three**, and U.S. Maple. There were maybe 10 people there that had any idea who they were and a rough idea of what to expect. Me and my buddy were two of 'em. He, being a musician and generally a more sensitive type, stood with his mouth opened and had his life changed...I, generally not a very sensitive type, missed most of the show laughing at the crowd which was becoming more and more hostile by the "note".

    These kids did not like being made fun of. In fact they had structured their whole lives around avoiding it. When one fella yelled out he'd be waitin' for 'em in the parking lot...I wen't dizzy and nearly passed out with amusement.

    Speaking of Pavement...there is a reason that otherwise seemingly right minded people still insist they were the greatest band of the 90's. If you've never heard their Drag City yourself a favor. Man what could have been.

  2. * if you've never heard a couple of coon trying to kill each've never heard noise.

    **Dirty Three were definitely capable of producing a moment.

  3. I want to be sure I'm clear on was US Maple that was causing all the trouble.

    The only hostility that the subject of Pavement could muster at this point was if you told the wrong twenty-something girl that Brighten the Corners sucked a**.