Thursday, January 17, 2008

Noise/Music: A History: Paul Hegarty (Continuum Books, 2007) This new book is important, if for no other reason than it is unique and long overdue. To my knowledge, no other writer has published at this length on this essential, 50 plus year old anti-musical “genre.” Considering how influential much of what Hegarty discusses has been upon the mainstream of popular music this failure borders on criminal. And considering the weight resting upon Hegarty’s scholarly shoulders, he bears well the responsibility. Unfortunately, the fact this book is so desperately needed is likewise what dooms it to at least partial failure.

Noise/Music: A History reads like the graduate thesis I dreamed of writing but in my day would not have dared to propose. Hegarty obviously loves having a reason to include the Germs and Throbbing Gristle on the same pages as Adorno, Baudrillard, Deleuze and other fashionable names of 20th century theory. Not that it is a stretch to include these difficult ideas in conjunction with this difficult music. The match was meant to be. The problem with this book is a matter of exclusion not inclusion. It would be easy to name dozens perhaps a hundred bands and/or musicians whose music should have been discussed in a book such as this one. Yet these bands are not to be found. Obviously such a book would run to thousands of pages, and obviously there should be a bunch of books on this stuff by the year 2008.

Hegarty does manage to mention if only in passing most of the important bands associated with “noise,” and considering that the one group given an entire chapter is Merzbow, no one can accuse the author of being soft on noise. I could complain (and I suppose I am) that Hegarty gives an equal amount of attention to a live track by the rock band Cream that he gives to Einsturzende Neubauten, perhaps the most important “noise” band in history. Likewise he mentions the Velvet Underground only in passing, and they were the rock band that embodied “noise” as a genre years before any other “popular” band dreamed such notions. Hegarty seems to compare“Sister Ray” to the hapless, in his words “pointless,” “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen. Such a comparison would be a good one, if it did not appear to be derision. Nevertheless, Hegarty gives needed attention and space to both the Swans and White House, two bands that are not easy to love. His sources include such essential reading as Derek Bailey and Jacques Attali. Noise/Music: A History is thrilling much more often than it goes wrong. Anyone who cares about “free improvisation” or “no wave” or “concrete music” or “extreme electronics” or any of the other silly genre terms that are thrown at this loud and delicious music will certainly want to read this book.

5 Comments:

Blogger troylloyd said...

Thanx for the prompt toward this book,i'm glad to see the beginnings of a historical approach to 'noise',altho i agree w/ you about exclusions...it'd be great to have an OED style 'noise dictionary' complete w/ soundsamples,so many productive clusters that have contributed to the magic of an ear opening. Is RRR covered in this book perchance? I was so lucky to live in Atlanta & have WREK to feed my brains fulla earholes so wide my hums thermal imaging.Speaking of the Velvets,the 1st time i heard 'em was on Destroy All Music ! i used to love & play the show while at work in the sandwich shop, i was so struck w/ the song i had to call in & ask who it was,whoever answered the phone couldn't beleeve my ignorance & i felt somewhat dumb,however, a few years later i was listening onna Sat. cornicopia & Ellen Mcgrail was dj,i called her up & told her the story & she hadda laugh & i requested some balinese gong music,she dug up the most wicked twiggy shit i'd heard in that dept.,kinda like a spaced out Ned Rothenberg...also,thanx for Skullflower,i heard 'em 1st on D.A.M. when they were young & kickin' the wicked badtripcity spacemen 3 vibe riffin' thru bo diddley's bowels...so amongst alltha many thangs you've contributed to the collective konkshushnesses, i say SALUT !

5:08 PM  
Blogger Glen said...

I don't think RRR is mentioned per se in "Noise/Music," but some of RRRon's band's are referenced. Unfortunately much of the RRR catalogue is left for that OED noise dictionary you are working on. Sorry someone was a shit to you when you called the show back in the day. It could have been me, actually. But it could have been anybody that was hanging out in the studio at the time and just happened to catch the call. Normally such a WREK staffer would have passed the call along to Ellen or myself, but any of them would have been capable of naming the Velvets. And likewise they would have had their moment of knowing something you did not know. Sorry. Thanks for reading and talking back.

3:45 AM  
Blogger hanson ono. said...

why is this book relevant?

12:22 AM  
Blogger troylloyd said...

"This new book is important, if for no other reason than it is unique and long overdue."

Because yoko poems say YES in so many different ways that no flips to on.

and (you are the plastic ono band)

and [water roosters dig clouds]

"This new book is important, if for no other reason than it is unique and long overdue."

Because Yoko poems say YES in so many ways that no flipped to on.

and (you are the plastic ono band)

and [water roosters dig clouds]

Lord Hegarty's lively prose is spot on to on the spot, as in exactly thus: he lists "CAMBRIDGE 1969/26:28" as the best jukebox song ever if it was cassette tapes & howlingly recalls how he and his band of noisy spranksters played it thru the university intercom system during lunch & it was so fuckin' Ivy League'd that the LSD25 was like Sandoz 'n shit - like high flyin' a hurricane fighter plane thru transparent radiation with split nostrils open wide.Jammin' apples man, jammin' apples!

But not least of which gives currency to the books relevancy,hence according to my autodestructive,locked groovy, sandpaper bound tome, Obstrepklängarium of Emancipatory Dissonance, it thusly states Tom Cora is so capable that the audience will levitate,and some will never return 'home'.

This antidictionary was recently published by Jean Philippe Arthur Dubuffet Jr. on his Abruti Brut imprint. Michael Brodsky gave it a great review in BuukPhorum:

"I was smoking furiously now. None of my fumes wrestled with itself. With each new cigarette I tried to kill the numbness produced by the previous. I tried to erode away the novelty of smoking, to get to the essence of smoking, but I would never get to the essence of smoking by watching myself and yet I would have felt inconsolable if I was not a spectator at my own immersion. Each cigarette was a failed attempt at immersion. Each new cigarette was an attempt to penetrate the thicket of all the failed cigarettes, to subtract the effect of those cigarettes on me and achieve the feeble commerce between myself and the cigarette. Each cigarette numbed me to a need for cigarettes, I smoked one more cigarette only because I had smoked the one before. Each new attempt was an attempt to break away from habit and examine the cigarette, the smoking of the cigarette, to determine its effect on me independent of habit, to determine the nature of my need. Yet before I could smell the novelty, the uniqueness of smoking I was overcome with the sameness and a kind of relief at the sameness of the effect, same as the effect of the cigarette that came before. And each new cigarette caused a kind of recrudescence of the effect of the other cigarettes. It added another layer to the impenetrability of the essence of cigarettes. Erosion of habit and numbness to the effect of cigarettes gave me little time to smoke simply. I was looking for the self that smoked but I did not want to find it, I did not want to evict novelty, the novelty of a new cigarette, I did not, in some part of me, want to coincide with myself, I preferred to be on the trail of myself, leaving clues for myself, always more than I could assimilate at a given instant. Weary as I was pursuing myself I felt instinctively that I would be made far more weary by catching up with myself. The search was merely a pretext for feeling lost, lost in my efforts and lost in her past. I was numbed to my pain, soothed, smothered. In trying to overcome inertia halfheartedly, in trying to overcome a halfhearted inertia I was most comfortable. The black man did not smoke. He did not have to light a first cigarette in the hope of retrieving himself by inhaling. He did not have to smoke a second cigarette, almost crushing the butt-to-be between fore and middle fingers. He knew in advance that smoking the second was a vengeance perpetrated on the first for not giving the required sense of self, by smoking the second I proved to the first I did not need it. The first cigarette drove me into the arms of the second and yet by smoking the second I seemed to be celebrating everything in the second that the first lacked. I looked forward to the foul aftertaste. Smoking reminded me of Mastroianni smoking in "8 1/2" to the tune of his mistress's babble about her husband--he martyrs his fumes to her babble. Smoking reminded me of Olivier smoking during the confession scene in "Rebecca." Smoking made me one with Anna Karina in "Vivre sa vie" when she explains to Brice Parain that she is responsible for every gesture; smoking permitted me to emigrate to the foreign country of "Pierrot le Fou" where Belmondo nursed a butt between his teeth, stoic, stunned, impassive, as Karina sings to him of their love. I had precedents for my behavior. But in their case, except perhaps in the case of Karina, their energy was channeled completely into smoking. It was not partitioned between smoking and watching themselves smoke. And I was condemned to watching myself, in case she ambushed me. I had to maintain a vigil for the self that preserved its calm, its innocence, in the face of her outflow, the self that would at all costs survive her ambush. She gripped her syllables as a woman in labor the bedposts. Midwife uncertified, I was not quite prepared for what she expelled, bloody and bristling. But the black man survived without smoking, without benefit of a third cigarette to put an end to the turmoil he must be feeling in listening to her. Smoking was supposed to protect me and then like all props it became an impediment on the way to defending myself against all she expelled."

As Brodsky so deftly notes, those Gitanes Blondes are slightly larger than yankee cigarettes and smother the palette with an uncanny charcoal flavor, but cabbage they do cost.The best alternative is to find a decent Vietnamese grocery and getta packa 'black cats' (Craven "A") or go colonial with triple 5,either way, you can barely find the best domestic smokes anyfuckingwheres - Lucky Strike Filters, I even called 'em up, B.A.T. down in Macon or thereabouts to tell their dumbasses to try and market them a little better & they'd have a winner fersure, go back to the spitfire green pack already, how longs the dubbel-W been buried for Thor's sake?

But now I'm always broke because I'm unemployed and write long comments on blogs, it's my new technique.So since I'm a poor-ass motherfucker I just buya $10 canna BaliShag golden 'n roll 'em up, I don't even really dig the factory cigarettes anymore 'cept the halfzware unfiltered gives me the bile-tips somethin' fierce, damn yellow fingers, I scrub 'n scrub but that shit stains like woodgrain.My sister said to use anal-bleach to clean 'em with but hellfire uppa hollertree if'f I'ma gonna go porno.

I was gonna bring up Mickey Quick & Molotov John, but fuck 'em.

Oh yeah, that kudzu moonshine is real good too, it gets you fuckedupperder thanna preacher in heat. My aunt Omey makes up in Ellijay, mebbe I oughta sellit to these yupped-up loft-puppies who're always laughin' allthaways totha bank on time,goddammit.

I ain't read that Noise/Music locka leaves yet, but if'n when tha leberry gets it I'll goes about nosin' its nudges.But fuckall oi bloody oi if'n I ain't hankerin' for summa them Perimeter Records tapecassettes like Sequence 3 is sucha good roadtrip tape and Tinnitus rips rightways round and Dairy Queen Empire gave tears of joy to salt'd ocean magnetics like a Tall Dwarfs track where you feel it good.

Back to Yoko, she flux'd up majik goodstuffs and piece by piece freed the freekies for skyflyin' asylums afluff'd o'er cloud.

Map of the Heavens, Planets, Astrological Chart, Horoscope
)Yoko Ono(
born February 18, 1933
at 8:30 PM
in Tokyo (Japon)
Sun in 29°23
Aquarius,
AS in 8°30 Libra,
Moon in
11°08 Sagitarius,
MC in 9°25 Cancer
Chinese Astrology:
Water Rooster
Numerology: Birthpath 9

Yokophobia is Over
(i.y.w.i.)

CLOUD PIECE
Imagine the clouds dripping.
Dig a hole in your garden to
put them in.
1963 Spring

7:58 AM  
Blogger hanson ono. said...

i need to buy this book.

7:57 PM  

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