23 August 2010
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.
Posted by Psychmetalfreak at 8/23/2010
04 August 2010
Taking a break from all the Noise... just watched the following video of the Godz freaking away. It was filmed by Jud Yulkut in 1966, a MTV of sort. I have the Godz's first album but never remembered them as so Amon Duul's Psychedelic Underground meets Cro-magnon and jamming it with Jandek in his recent live incarnations, all weed-out. Killer! Gonna go back and dig out that CD to blast this weekend.
Posted by Psychmetalfreak at 8/04/2010
02 August 2010
Here is another part from my paper on the Noise Continuum paper which I presented recently in Salford, Manchester...
The tape recorder as a compositional tool became the departure point of the foregrounding of non-musical elements around us: noise as music. With the post-war availability of the tape machine proliferating through Europe and the USA, it was just a matter of time before someone would harness it extensively to create musical pieces of pure electronic provenance and texture from surrounding noises. Pierre Schaeffer and his assistant, Pierre Henry, composed the world’s first tape/electronic work, Symphonie pour un homme seul (Symphony for a Man Alone), which signalled the final realization of the pre-Second World War sensibility and its imagination of bridging the idea of modernity with a new music to the actualisation of a truly modern art in the form of tape composition by the end of the 1940s in France. With this symphony, everyone who mattered in the modern classical world had to try their hands at it: Stockhausen, Cage, Berio, Boulez and the list goes on. Music has finally broken away from the presumptuous imitation of the natural world of sound into an abstract realm: the limit is simply constrained by the imagination and the tediousness of composing using the tape. Other key musique concrete and electronic composers like Luc Ferrari and Bernard Parmegiani who helped cultivate the sustained experimental legacy of the INA GRM produced works of pristinely beautiful but frequently aurally jarring pieces which incorporate sharp shards of electric spikes, dramatic soar and trawl of amplitude and an uncanny knack for inserting processed found sounds into the composition which helped to re-invent music and invent a noise language along the way. Noise as a self conscious musical form was thus born.
The subsequent setting up of centres devoted to the composition of tape-based works and electronic pieces was a sign of the euphoric acceptance of the musical avant-garde of this new mode of creativity. Some applied the principles of serialism (Pierre Boulez), some made use of the inherent asynchronous nature of two simultaneously playing tape machines (Steve Reich) and some, especially the axis around the INA GRM, re-imagined the found sounds surrounding us and molded futuristic and, noisy sound etudes. But it would take the world quite a while to catch on and understand fully what this all meant. Right now only with the coffers of the state and corporate sponsorship could one dream of doing likewise. Noise making like traditional composition was still in the hands of the upper strata of the society. However, the fact that the founding father of musique concrete was more of an engineer than a traditional composer with the relevant conservatory training and its attendant musical baggage was a sign to come by the time Noise became a fully insurrected genre in its own right. Most Noise artists are unable to sight-read and scribble musical staves but rely plainly on their need to create anew and concoct musical forms which defy notes, tones and musical conventions. They hijack the evolving technological forward thrust for their own sonic bliss and jouissance based on their intuition and the art of improvisation.
Posted by Psychmetalfreak at 8/02/2010