23 August 2010

Is There A Noise Continuum Part 14: Hypnagogic Pop Strikes Again...

Advanced Beauty from Konx-om-Pax on Vimeo.



Here is another installment from my recent Noise paper on H-Pop and the future of Noise...

Noise has come a long way since its Modernist beginnings in the early decades of the last century with plenty of conceptual and ideological forefathers staking claims and mining the different possibilities according to the freedoms and restrictions given by the technological progress of the given time. In recent years Noise has matured as a genre which allows a higher profile for the practitioners to reach out but it is also being narrowly framed as one of the many kinds of art form, a generic name which can be seen as the stratification and gradual stagnation of a creative impetus as well as the formulation of generic musical norms and conventions which often hinders the continual growth of any art form. Some past champions of Noise, have, in recent months, declaimed the death of Noise as Noise becomes more codified and canonized.

Where should Noise go from here? Some critics, record labels and record shops, especially those with links to the British alternative music magazine, the Wire, seem to point the way forward via this group of very disparate musicians and groups and even coining them, Hypnagogic Pop (or H-Pop). It is a broad umbrella of artists tapping different music sources and producing a variety of interesting sub-genres like avant garage rock to twenty-first century Goth pop. The more relevant stream amongst this wide plethora of musicians to Noise is made up of many who used to work at the periphery of the Noise axis in the mid 2000s like the Skaters, whose two members are now working separately to create otherworldly slabs of retro-gazing sonic song murk with New Age overtones. In fact, some of the early Noise influences can be found, once again, in the musical DNAs of these outfits: the more cosmic sector of Krautrock, certain elements of musique concrete and certain seminal albums of the post-Industrial Underground.

Current favourites of the ex-Noise proselytizers and critics like Emeralds, Ducktails and Oneohtrix Point Never, have created long form musical/sound interrogation of a less abrasive form but they share certain attributes with their distant relatives in Noise: the importance of a sonic jouissance not rooted in melody and song form but instead sharing a penchant for long form and improvisation as well as junkyard art sensibility. More Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel than Faust and Kluster, H-Pop might foretell the next progression of Noise to come. The release of albums by these musicians on traditional Noise record labels like Editions Mego, No Fun Productions and Hanson, look telling of the affinity of H-Pop with Noise. Noise as a genre seems to fit into the Deleuze-Guattari paradigm of a constantly de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation of the past hundred years, flitting back and forth repeatedly across the entire historical continuum of music and the arts. Thus, contrary to what some might choose to think and hear, Noise might still have plenty of life in it in the subsequent decades of this century.

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