By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Some people really get their panties in a twist over noise, man.
Every year, local producer-musician Rat Bastard throws his globally acclaimed International Noise Conference at Churchill's Pub. And every year, squares of every shape, size, and variety — from costumed punk-rock LARPers to so-called serious musicians with serious chips on their shoulders — bitch and moan every chance they get.
The most common charge is "This shit isn't even music." But hey, Gramps, didn't they say the same thing about your precious punk? Or, really, rock 'n' roll in general?
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In today's wear-that-crappy-influence-on-your-sleeve, post-relevant music industry, noise — and we're talking about the genuinely noisy stuff, not the pan-genre big tent that includes everything from techno to postpunk — might be one of the last bastions of raw rock intensity.
So here are the nine nastiest, noisiest acts lined up for this year's International Noise Conference.
Metasplice (Philadelphia). A collaboration between veteran INC-er Dave Smolen and beat-oriented compatriot hair_loss, this project meets the challenge of being noisy without necessarily getting harsh, extreme, or totally brutal. Instead, the duo sounds like an iPod that's been overloaded with IDM and then submerged in hot sauce.
Microwave Windows (San Francisco). Never before has a musical artist sounded so much like its namesakes. Honestly, Microwave Windows is (almost) the exact synthesis of a humming radio wave-powered oven and the boot-up music for Windows 95.
Williams, Hosker, and Bristol (Jacksonville/Broward). Free jazz is a lot like free-balling. And if you don't entirely understand that statement, check out this no-core trio (featuring master improvisers from North and South Florida alike) for a crash course in music that sounds like testicles.
Oubliette (Clyo, Georgia). Southeastern noise champion Oubliette follows a variety of self-prescribed mandates — including a ban on after-effects like delay and loops as well as a requirement that all sound be improvised and tailored to the room. The ultimate goal: maintaining the project's seriousness and devoutness in defiance of genre trends and lazy noise.
Douglas Ferguson (Austin). Nothing like a nice, harsh wall of noise to turn you into a human torch, huh? Douglas Ferguson starts with a little drone spark. He adds some gas with a heavy splash of incendiary effects. And before you know it, your body has been consumed by an inferno of sound.
Blue Shift (Providence). A violin-based squall factory, Blue Shift forges tones that render men impotent and send dogs into a trance that makes them stand on their hind legs and do a soft-shoe shuffle.
Tusco Terror (Cleveland). The last time Tusco Terror played INC, the entire set was one giant malfunction. Each member tried to get his gear to work until, uh, none of them could. This gritty, brooding table-noise ensemble has been known to conclude performances by trashing its equipment, assuming the gear worked in the first place.
Tippi Tillvind (Stockholm). We have no idea what Swedish multimedia artist Tippi Tillvind has planned for Churchill's. But we hope it's something like the Noise Mobile, a screeching playpen on wheels that she and some European sound-art buds took on tour last year.
Cock E.S.P. (Minneapolis). These miscreants are the sloppy, semen-encrusted kings of North American noise. For more than a decade, the members of this "experimental music and art ensemble" have traveled the world wearing crappy costumes, beating the shit out of each other, and making horrible messes. There is a Zen koan that asks, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" We have no idea. But we're positive it's the complete opposite of Cock E.S.P.