If you know what I’m talking about, you know what it is. Avant-gard/experimental music meeting rock head-on with a scary but delicious crunch and clang; found sound, looped and manipulated tapes, militant percussion and tortured instruments. electronic din combined with pulsations…what was called industrial music before that phrase got co-opted and corrupted to mean electronic dance music with a slightly scary or noisy edge. What the No Other Radio Network show on Berkeley’s KPFA annoyingly refers to as Difficult music. Throbbing Gristle and early PTV; SPK, Allegory Chapel, Crash Worship/ADRV and Human Head Transplant, IAO CORE and Coil and Nurse W/Wound. Abruptum and Lightning Bolt and Negativland and Whitehouse and Blackhouse and Current 93 and The Project and Rubberthroat. And the Japanese practitioners like Merzbow and Masonna (who I don’t much care for personally – their reliance on feedback and radio static doesn’t do a lot for me except cause physical pain and fidgetiness).
This is a rather difficult taste to justify or explain satisfactorily to the non-initiate. You can try explaining it in terms of finding the music in non-musical sonics, or twisted humor and off-the-wall social commentary (in the case of bands like Negativland, for instance), or how it can trigger altered staes of consciousness . You can even invoke high-art avant-gardists. But when push comes to shove and they tell you “That ain’t music – that’s noise”, there’s very little you can respond with besides “Yep, that’s why I love it.” I’ve had some people go as far as to say appreciating the stuff is naught but an artsy-fartsy pose, typical BS for a guy like myself who mostly dresses in black jeans and t-shirts and cuts his hair real funny.
As if you hadn’t already figured this out, I dig the Hell out of the stuff, sometimes more than others. For me, it began as an offshoot of my taste for extreme, noise-prone forms of rock music (along with some other considerations I won’t go into). I was just wondering if anyone else out in Doperland shares my taste for it. What noise does it for you? How’d you get into it in the first place? And what do you say when you end up discussing the stuff with nay-sayers?