Why we love noise music!
by Dave Skipper
One of the beauties of noise music is how extraordinarily diverse it is. One of the delights of being involved in the noise scene (although it is not a single, distinct scene) is how it facilitates and encourages such wide a spectrum of creative approaches. This diversity of sound and diversity of artist is due in part to the apparently abstract form and nature of noise music. For the most part there are no lyrics, and musical traditions are either pushed to extremes and beyond, or smashed together, or simply ignored altogether.
The motivations for making or listening to noise music are as varied as could be. In this article series I will contemplate some of the many possible desires for noise music. Some of these are my desires. If you love noise music then you will recognise some of these desires as your own. And if you are new to noise music, I think you will also find you share some of these desires too, and you may feel the urge to seek out some noise music for yourself!
Here follows, in alphabetical order, an overview of 27 desires that I will cover in this series:
Eclipsing Specificity – Universal and overarching.
When so many styles of music inescapably tie in with their cultural roots and context (although arguably diminishingly so in the internet age), noise transcends traditions and categories. You feel like it is the purest exploration of music possible.
Ecology – Preservation and industry.
You care for nature: celebrate the noises of this earth we inhabit and all the lifeforms we share it with. You disdain mankind’s perpetual disregard for our planet: curse our destructive tendencies with the weapons of noise.
Egos Not Welcome – Come as you are.
The entry threshold for making noise is as low as it can possibly be. Anybody can make noise with something; you are welcome to have a go. This ethos definitely discourages egos and the self-obsessed, and you like it this way.
Electronics – Tinkering with technology..
Hand-made, boutique, DIY. Modify some circuits, solder some cables – customise your gear for your own sound. From exploiting analogue impurities to programming new digital horizons, noise lurks in every last nook and cranny.
Emancipation – Everybody wants freedom!
Do what you want in any sonic direction: make noise. Break the rules, ignore the rules, make new rules: make noise. Turn things upside-down: make noise. Anything, anything at all, is your sonic recipe: make noise.
Embodied Intensity – Taking a physical battering.
Feel those vibrations churning your guts! A full-on noise show isn’t just about the soundwaves tickling the ears. It’s invigorating, and you’ve got to experience it in your whole body to really understand.
Emotional Catharsis – Cleansing the spirit.
Meditation: empty mind or full mind? Letting thoughts and feelings vanish away? Or confronting and spending time with your thoughts and feelings? Release your feelings or confront your feelings in the cocoon of noise.
Empowerment – Alive, in control, invincible.
Noise is very powerful. Through noise you can seemingly exert control over a captive audience. You can feel like the elements are at your fingertips. You feel as though you can do anything, and that nobody can stop you.
Enigma – Savouring the mystery.
The noise is in full flow. You are enveloped in the confusing mass/mess of sound. Disorientation! Saturation! You love that feeling of being taken out of your comfort zone, where you cannot make sense of your sensations.
Enjoyment – Pure and simple.
You just love the sounds, the energy, the experience that noise provides. As the saying goes, there’s no accounting for taste – and your taste just happens to include noise!
Enraged Acts – What to do with all the anger and hate?
Expel all the last remnants of fury and frustration through the ferocity of harsh noise. Shout, scream, scrape, shake, strike. Pummel pedals and switches to oblivion. Or bask calmly in the sonic assault as ears bleed and walls threaten to crumble.
Enrichment – Pride, progress… or something priceless.
You want better noise, a better experience, better community. More creativity, more choice, more respect. Noise adds something special and unique to your life as a noisician or a noise lover. That’s why you pursue it, and why you keep coming back for more.
Ephemereality – Nothing lasts, nothing matters?
Noise in the now. You love that fleeting moment, the transitory treasure, the spike of intensity. The noise ends, and then what? Never to be repeated, you had been lost in the moment. And now it feels good that you could inhabit that mysterious wisp, whispering, “I was there!”
Epiphany – An encounter with divinity.
You know the feeling. Something in the music touches the core of your being, as if taking you to another dimension. It’s like a revelation of the infinite. A religious experience minus the religion. Good noise has that power, and you crave those moments.
Escape – Peace that lasts.
Stressed out? Screaming inside? Seeking solitude? Escape into the world of noise and block it all out. Full immersion in sound provides welcome relief, a sweet sonic oasis in a lifeless and suffocating world.
Eternity Glimpsed – I don’t want this to stop…
The waves of noise just keep coming, flowing over you, through you, filling you. A moment in time is captured, frozen, sustained. A feeling of timelessness. In that stretched-out moment when the textural tapestry of sound unravels you feel like you are just that tiny bit closer to seeing, feeling, knowing eternity.
Evil, Filth, and Decay – Embracing, exploring, or exposing the darkness.
Exorcise your inner demons. Highlight the oppression, injustice, and brutality in the world. Break taboos and morality. Deal with the dark side of life and society through the extreme artform of noise.
Exaltation – Who are you praising?
You love great noise. Who is your noise god, who are your kings of noise? And you want to make great noise yourself – you want others to praise your noise-making. Can noise help you to find the right balance,away from unhealthy self-absorption?
Exclusion from Normality – Uniqueness of self and art.
Noise culture welcomes and embraces individuality and unique artistic expression. As noise knows no sonic boundaries, so noise culture knows no personal boundaries regarding who can make noise and enjoy noise. You really don’t want to fit in in the normal world, right?
Excruciation – Bring the pain!
Whether for good or bad, you want the noise to hurt you. Maybe you need to punish yourself, and noise is your knife. Maybe you get a buzz out of raw sensation, and noise is your drug. Maybe you just need to toy with danger, and noise is your extreme sport.
Exhilaration – A taste of glory.
Bring the noise! When those rasping gritty tones explode through the air you know you’re in for a treat. The adrenaline, the power, the glory. It’s an experience you love and it makes you feel ALIVE!
Expansion – Details amplified and stretched.
Small sounds easily go unnoticed. Let’s bring them to life and give them a big voice! Tiny noises made loud and expanded in time reveal wonderful riches just waiting to be appreciated and explored.
Experience Shared – Together is better than alone.
The vibe, the atmosphere. Rave about that great noise set to your mates. Thank the artist for a great performance. Relish the camaraderie of being in a niche subculture. It’s just not the same on your own.
Experimentation – Seeking something new.
You’re bored of normality, bored of the popular, bored of predictability. But more than that you crave new horizons, new experiences. Surprise me! Show me a new approach, new ideas, new sounds.
Exploring the Edges – Adventure and discovery.
Extreme frequencies. Extreme timbres. Extreme volume. Extreme aesthetics. Boundaries fascinate us. What happens when I push this or that parameter to the limit? Can I go past the limit? What will I find there? How will it make me and others feel?
Expression – Thoughts, feelings, attitudes.
Art often functions for artists as a means of releasing, exploring, and communicating the heart within. If noise fulfils this role for you then clearly it has a particular capacity to express you that other art forms may not be adequate for.
That’s a pretty good list! Noise music is enticing indeed!
Did I miss one of your own desires for noise in this list? If so, please let me know so I can add it in. It doesn’t have to start with the letter ‘e’ – I am sure I will be able to find a suitable ‘e’ word for it!
What does any of this have to do with the Bible? Well, the Bible has a lot to say about desires, both good and bad. It actually speaks to all of the above desires in one way or another: some directly, some indirectly. As I think about each kind of desire I will ponder what implications the Bible has for each one.
This article series will be an exercise for me in letting go of my desires: letting them go wherever I find that they are misplaced, too weak, or based on selfish foundations.
At the same time this series will be an exercise for me in renewing, embracing, and enlarging my desires: desires that become new, heightened, and rightly directed.
I want to pursue the best, the deepest, the most profound desires. And I want to find the source, the culmination, the satisfaction of these desires. My own desires for noise should ultimately lead me to God Himself in all His beauty and magnificence and majesty. Therefore noise has a vital role to play in the development of my faith – I wonder if I am the first person to ever make that statement?! Curiouser and curiouser…
He who has ears to hear, let him hear!