Starter Kit: (Harsh) Noise

Starting sometime in the late 70’s, early 80’s a new genre of futurist music arose. It sought to push the boundaries of music, warping the very concept of what music could be. It was harsh, dissonant, and altogether uncomfortable, yet somehow drew legions of devoted fans. The lack of boundaries, the freedom of expression that not even something like punk could grant was freeing. It was then that noise music first started to take shape. Soon, people began experimenting even further with this music, eventually leading to the creation of genres such as no-wave and industrial. Bands such as Swans have taken influence from the early noise acts, and to this day there is still a good amount of it rooted in their sound. Even modern dance/electronic music, albeit indirectly, was influenced by and perhaps even given room to grow off the basis of noise. It is a bizarre, all encompassing genre that can include anything and everything and has found a niche working in tandem with all genres of extreme music. However, at its core, there is still only noise music and through this starter kit the ancient art of making music that sounds like a struggling vacuum cleaner will be explored.

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Merzbow – Merzbeat

Merzbow is often heralded as the originator of noise music and with good reason. Through out the course of his career he has made more classic noise releases than can be counted, as well as pioneering some of the very techniques used so commonly in noise music. And, while not perhaps his most dissonant or abrasive album, Merzbeat provides the perfect jumping off point for all of that. On it Akita Masami is heard playing with the boundaries of what he already created himself, adding dance(ish) drum loops to ground his usual shrieking wall of noise. It may not be for everyone seeking out noise as a dissonant genre, but it does provide a fairly solid starting point in a genre that is often so loose it is difficult to initially get into.

 

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Prurient – Frozen Niagara Falls

Perhaps one of the only noise artists ever able to rival Merzbow’s notoriety, Prurient is the twisted noise monstrosity of artist Dominick Fernow. In it he changes up noise a bit, incorporating the occasional shrieking black metal-esque vocals as well as synth that can, at times, even be described as dancey. Every release shows a remarkable amount of growth incorporating these elements into the thick walls of noise that have existed since the beginning. However, it is with his Profound Lore debut that Fernow reached the peak of his creative efforts, unleashing the monolith of noise that is Frozen Niagara Falls. Every song, despite most being close to 10 minutes long, always keep the listener engaged as it travels through ever shifting soundscapes of pain and destruction. Fernow does not just embrace the idea of challenging what music can be, as much as completely destroy them and rebuild them to fit his own twisted ideas.

 

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Pig Heart Transplant – For Mass Consumption

Better known as one half of seminal modern powerviolence masters Iron Lung, Pig Heart Transplant is the unholy work of Jack Kortland. However, unlike the raging tempos and assault of blast beats that drives Iron Lung, Pig Heart Transplant focuses on the slow, unforgiving assault of noise that fills the spaces between. With For Mass Consumption (a name that is entirely ironic), Kortland expands on these spaces, allowing them to grow into the monstrous excuses for music that they have always been. If you are a fan of the more noise driven aspects of Iron Lung, Pig Heart Transplant is essential listening.

 

Further Listening:

Full of Hell – Noise Vol. 4 

Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music

Throbbing Gristle – 20 Jazz Funk Greats

La Monte Young & Theatre of Eternal Music – The Fire Is A Mirror

Comments






3 thoughts on “Starter Kit: (Harsh) Noise

  1. Eliza Reply

    To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of noise music. I find that, more often than not, I simply don’t get it. But, I have to say, that Merzbow album is great.

    • jonnyta Reply

      I was so surprised to hear that ancient music sounds like a best vacuum cleaner. I can’t think of how people would hear it. Thank you for sharing this useful information.

  2. iamspoonbender Reply

    Bastard Noise is great for a beginner as well. They range from ambient drone to harsh insect warfare, as Eric puts it. Ground Fault Recordings did a series of noise albums as well. Some quiet, and some obviously not. Also worth checking out.

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