Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Noise-Rock vs....

OK, I'd like to take a moment to talk about Noise-rock of any kind. This is a genre that really, really confuses me. My introduction to noise-rock occurred about two years ago not by being introduced to the music itself, but by being introduced to Kip.

Kip's head was in the right place - art, film, and music, across the board he had good taste. Kip was a sweetheart, too. True, he lived a bit on an island that could make him a bit difficult to access. But he was nice. Kip had a noise-rock band in Syracuse whose name had something to do with Skeletons and Closets. Kip told me stories about throwing around large sheets of metal to make noise, and the gashes it cut in him and others. Injuries in general, he informed me, were commonplace when his Skeletons and Closets namesake band performed. This gave Kip a weird street-cred that didn't really seem all that earned, and yet he had it.

Since then, my experiences of noise-rock have been few and far between. But when I watched this video of Ptv live performance by Health, a noise-punk band, I felt like I wanted to try to "talk it out:"

Watching this makes me think two things:

1) This is ridiculous for me, as a spectator, in the pejorative sense.
2) This reminds me of jambands, where the disparity between the experience of producing the music and listening to it seems massive.

Now, I can appreciate what's happening here. There's something exhilarating and important about reductionism, not in the sense of tonality or rhythm or anything like that, but in the reduction of the self - the stripping away of the ego and superego. Noise-rock seems clearly driven toward exposing a raw sense of self through the exploration of sound as it comes out of the body, in a feral way. As Dr. Arthur Janov will certainly vouch, there is a therapeutic benefit to accessing deep, primal sounds and noises. Others, too, would agree that there's plenty to be gotten out of a combination of childish and animalistic freedoms of behavior. And I think it's something everyone should consider.

Also, on an intellectual level, I get it. Music sometimes seems to have hit a wall, and there's the desire to break through the wall. Rock 'n' roll, punk, noise. These were all primal desires to break through the wall of staleness. To do something new. To appeal to the inner flame of innovation against stasis. So I get it there, too.

But who wants to watch this? I mean that not sarcastically. I mean, obviously people want to watch these kinds of bands perform because otherwise there would be no bands, much less bands playing on Pitchfork TV. But why not just do this stuff yourself? It seems that all the thrashing around and screaming that the crowd might be doing are so close to what the band is doing, that it's kind of just like an orgy.

Maybe therein lies the rub. The counter-point could be that like with an orgy, where one could choose to just have sex alone or with one other person but chooses to have it with many partners, the orgiastic primalism of noise-rock concerts beg the throngs of the masses to achieve something that can't be achieved just thrashing and screaming at home.

And hell, this is actually kind of pretty to listen to (also Health):


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