Sunday, July 25, 2004

My favorite bit in David Keenan’s Noise Primer in this month’s Wire:

"…New Blockaders collaborator Andrew Chalk… also ran a solo project, Ferial Confine, through much of the ‘80s and ‘90s, although the available recorded evidence is thin on the ground."

You don’t say, David! If the microcult-building/arcana-excavation industry carries on at this rate of unstinting assiduousness, the "project" me and the Monitor crew "ran" for a single afternoon in 1984--turntablism avant la lettre, fucking around with scratch techniques using cheap Dansettes, not just vinyl but (you hear me Richard D. James?) putting the stylus on the rubber mat or the metal surface of the turntable itself itself, Chris Scott (later of Talulah Gosh, and whose basement this took place in) running long ethnodelic 8 track tape loops made off field recordings around the room using jam jars for the tape to spool around while simultaneously super-8ing the whole thing for posterity--will soon acquire mini-mythic status. Available recorded evidence is thin on the ground, but…

Another notable bit, from the preamble:  "If pop music is daytime, a nine to five soundtrack regulating work and consumption, then noise is its night…. In contrast to music manufactured under the surveillance glare of pop, noise provides a cover of dark that encourages both experimentation and criminal acts. Noise generates the perfect conditions for interrogating control and jamming its channels. Noise is the meltdown of logic. And it refuses the notion that everything is consensual, that communication is paramount, that music must be about pleasure."

But, but, but, but, Da-vid.... these ideas have been, if not definitively discredited, then at least severely problematised for oooh nigh on fifteen years, at least--they were beginning to look rather tired by the time of Big Black’s Songs About Fucking. This whole "harmony as lie/noise as truth" notion--come off it!  Just look at the modes of transmission, reception, and consumption in which your average noise outfit plies its wares. What could be more over-rationalised, orderly, contained, non-disruptive? Saturated with discourse, LADEN with conceptual baggage, the wares are served up to a totally pre-converted and unshockable cult audience. Whitehouse, perhaps, are still beyond the pale (beyond my pale, certainly), but at what cost.

Melodic or textural beauty (I’m talking about the Sublime here, rather than just your common or garden pretty tune or nice-sounding sounds) is just as much an uncanny strangeness at loose in the world,
outside sense or law. Extreme loveliness can be as intense as any noise. Conversely, noise, unleavened, is actually often rather dull. Lulling even--I’ve fallen asleep in not one but two different Diamanda Galas concerts (and I was a Diamanda fan!).

That said, I did like the bit where Dave goes on about two members of Borbetomagus who "lock horns like rutting moose."

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