Photo credit: Amelia
Last night I went to The Bank— pretty much my favorite place to see bands play in Baltimore— to see a bunch of harsh noise bands I’d never seen before. I experienced a wide range of feelings at this show, so I thought I might come home and try to compose a few haikus about each band I saw. However, in the spirit of harsh noise, I am pretty much ignoring the syllable rules that make haikus haikus.
Dude’s shirt is off quick,
but those pudge layers look warm.
whoa, an ARP Odyssey!
hmm, Tomita riffs are not here.
it sounds like a giant blowing in a microphone.
I wonder what that huge sampler is for?
A Boss loop pedal, as well!
The red one, that stores loops in memory—-
all of this to make a big wind noise?
Good thing his bro is along.
Smashing the cymbal with contact mic and chain.
Roby turns, “Breaking instruments will never get old.”
Big Dude screams: “The truth!
The truth is the only (something something)
your fucking face!” Hmm.
It’s not that bad, though,
Smashing-friend got me amped, but all good will is squandered
by the raging sexist outburst later back by the woodstove.
Real tall guy doing full-on
tactless sexual harassment— maybe seems “noise” to him but it’s pathetic
proof you had more to purge during that set.
DOGDICK + KAKERLAK COLLABORATION
Before the set I see
Kakerlak coming out of the bathroom.
Somebody is psyched and says so.
“I don’t know, man, we
didn’t practice.” I try to reassure but the darkness is too real to be dispelled
by a stranger’s pleasantries.
Now, here! the squriming squall,
mixer feedback and modular making twisted tones
sounds like the face of some Lovecraftian beast.
These dudes are cocky.
Restless hands that display visible agency,
no mercy on the speakers.
Like most harsh noise, there’s
basically no dynamics. But there’s a lot of variety
and recent beers temper my expectations.
The Boh helps me find
many many complex variations within the wall
and they’re done before I am.
Conflict with The Grid is
the heart and soul of all electronic music performance.
Control it or it controls you.
Ah, but there’s a punchline:
miniscule samples from popular music. Drowning Pool,
Lil Jon: repetition of sections less than a bar.
Alternating mixer feedback
and the little loops. It’s funny, but the pop seems somehow
protected inside Steve Jobs’ little machine.
Easily the most pro bro on the bill,
dude’s instrument is an electrical abomination: Joysticks,
7 light switches, rotary phone parts, some kind of taut, spinning chamber!
The mask: Cerebus meets
Leatherface, maybe helps him yell without thinking about
us looking at his yelly face.
The vest: more switches, wires,
little boxes. Dude spins the chamber, hell spews forth.
I wonder if he had to go to school to learn electrics.
Also, the night’s sole
lightshow: a single spot on the table, blinking in sync
to some particular frequency.
Out of beer, I focus on the machine.
Switches get switched, the feedback changes.
Joysticks are pulled and I hear changes in pitch.
The masked spazzing seems almost
unnecessary: I want to close my eyes and be inside the sound.
Short of losing blood, no dude can compete with the wall.
Again, there’s no arc:
No rising action, no twists, no payoff,
only a sustained brutalization.
It’s easier to concede to the assumptions,
though, when dazzled by the obvious electrical competence
required to build and operate that crazy machine.
Another duo: just-singer and a dude
with the most abused-looking Access Indigo
I have ever seen.
Missing keys and totally painted white:
is he embarrassed to rock expensive techno gear
employed by Trent Reznor and Crystal Method?
It’s not wasted: the rumbling air
has a tuneful harmony buried deep inside it.
Singer is going off Whitehouse-style.
A lot of “Die! Die!
I want to see you stabbed up! Swollen!”
Something about privilege— privileged fucks?
A strange reversal: the first band
I’d actually want to check out an album by,
has a glaring hole in their live presentation:
They won’t look at us.
Neither guy faces the crowd once and there’s too many lights on.
Shoulda brought more beer.
Watching backs, I ponder:
Am I too hard on harshnoise? It seems to demand the same suspension of
full-bore-criticality that the new-age fruitnoise requires.
IE: if you’re not already
predisposed to embrace it, the only thing that might sway you
is sheer volume plus visible confidence.
In any case, it’s definitely not worse than
rock bands exuding studious effort, bridges and choruses
in predictable successions.
There is, at least, the goal
of a transcendent release from all this stifling, strangling organization. Perhaps a nobler path
for both nerds and rock than playing parts in order.
Agh! But I cannot shake
the feeling that order cannot be assaulted without backbreaking discipline!
Order is so strong: casual attacks bounce off.
Perhaps the vivid present presence
of these philosophical questions is a point in favor of the harsh steez
over the new dreamcatchers-and-headbands-style shit.
I’d like to feel a little more scared. The army of mixernerds needs
a few more Mick Foleys.
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