Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Merzbow photograph courtesy of Under City Lights
Wolf Eyes interview up here.
Writing that article made me think about the whole 'noise' scene and how Simon Reynolds exposes in the book Rip It Up and Start Again just how dodgy the politics of some of those bands were - Whitehouse, in particular, were practically a parody of fascism. In The Wire, free-jazz drummer Chris Corsano makes the point that Whitehouse live were so OTT that it's 'supercamp', as he puts it, with two blokes in their 40s onstage shouting lyrics about various sadists and mass murderers throughout history. Nonetheless, as a spectacle, the sheer sonic assault of Whitehouse live when I saw them took some beating.
Goying beyond the confrontational approach of some of its acts, noise remains a fascinating genre, with's its incredibly prolific releases (Merzbow (above) has released something like 350 albums, including the legendary one that came soldered into a car's ignition) and uncompromising stance. Stubbornly avant-garade, noise remains the genre most untainted by commercial success, and has a kind of purity about it as a result (though some would translate it as elitism), both in aesthetics and in the visceral drone of the music. No-one becomes a noise artist with even the slightest hope that they might actually make some money.
Following on from this, Reynolds has also mentioned in his blog about the practice of hip music fans christened 'Wyatting', which basically involves going into a pub with a fiver and putting on deliberately the most unlistenable music on the jukebox all night, thereby rendering the chav's attempts at chatting up members of the opposite sex nullified by the fact that it will be to a soundtrack of punishing industrial power electronics white noise.
Amazingly, it's been picked up by The Guardian, who've provided a succint explanation of the act here. But Reynolds' blog below is far more entertaining.
From Simon Reynolds blog 2006-01-06
There’s A Wyatt Going On
Further to the Thursday Afternoon prankster story, two correspondents write to tell me how this is becoming a burgeoning cruel sport among hipsters--square-baiting-- or perhaps, in a more charitable reading, a desperate intifada-like resistance to the tyranny of Pop and/or Indie Middlebrow...
A Guy Called Danny says he did “this exact same thing (right down to using Thursday Afternoon as the polite nuisance) in a bar in Brighton mostly frequented by metalheads about a year ago. Those "infinite jukebox" thingies are an unlimited source of fun: Another favourite trick was to go to a fashionable indie pose-pub and cue up all four sides of Metal Machine Music, then watch as the customers' carefully cultivated cool slowly crumbled. How we smirked! Looking back, it probably wasn't worth the four quid I had to put in the jukebox, though.”
while Carl Neville says “this particular use/abuse of pub Jukeboxes is something of a ritual now, at least it is for me and a couple of mates.. . there's a bar in Ramsgate... with one of these massive database jukeboxes installed, and once a month when i visit family and friends we go " Wyatting" (the cowardly white muso boys anonymous attempt at provocation and civil disobedience, term coined after our inital experiment with playing the whole of Dondestan one Friday evening, to general be/amusement). Now we like to get down there nice and early with twenty quid each, get a good four or five hours worth of Dark Magus and On the Corner or the complete works of The Mahavishnu Orchestra on, nicely topped off with a bit of Neubauten or Coil, maybe a smattering of "Frankie Teardrop", a soupcon of Merzbow and a pinch of No Pussyfooting as the locals try to go through the ritual Friday night lad/laddette motions to a soundtrack of nails down blackboard feedback and thirty two minute Evan Parker clarinet solos. Naturally you have to try to look like as if your not enjoying it much either, even complain vociferously if required....though thus far no one has ever demanded its turned off.. which maybe an interesting brit/yank diifference.. they just tend to complain to each other and get on with the business of suffering through ( ahhh, the stoical, masochistic, stiff upper lip Brit!) any number of auditory abominations.....naturally the more inappropriate the pub the greater the delight in "Wyatting".. we've enjoyed it so much down on the coast i'm thinking of exporting the practice to London ( no doubt I'm well behind the times and there are already embattled enclaves of "Urban(e) Wyatters" doing the rounds here, i've just yet to hook up with them) perhaps blissblog could help to promote this childish, futile, but finally hilarious practice (death of the political and all that, eh?) by forming a "Wyatt Squad" in New York and generally helping to boost its profile on an international scale...
“It’s already becoming a competitive sport!."I Wyatted the Wifebeater's Arms in Castleford with three solid hours of Diamanda Galas last Friday, mate what you been up to.. oh yeah, Pauline Oliviros???.....Cambridge....??? is that the best you can manage?"I guess the music biz and the pubs that have installed them have no idea what a demographic busting, commercially suicidal innovation this one is... it only takes twenty or so commited, strategically deployed Whitehouse fans to bring entire national chains crumbling to the ground... endless loops of "shitfun" and " I'm coming up your ass" of a sunday morning as the punters tuck into the pub lunch..... and so Kapital sows the seeds of its own destruction through hammy Eighties PowerElectronics... fancy twenty five minutes of Sutcliffe Jugend with that Full English love?... two pints of Stella, a pickled egg and could you turn the Smell and Quim track down a bit mate, its given one of the kids a nosebleed....just wait till the video version o f this jukebox becomes available, no doubt in conjuction with youtube.. come that glorious day comrade it's gonna be wall to wall live G.G. Allin footage down Laurence Llewelyn Bowen's poxy Inc bar, i'll tell you that much... !"
Pockets of resistance inside the City of Music, using the technology against itself--a design flaw in the machines unspotted by the manufacturers? Or just the Wire-reader/ Resonance FM-listener as audio-bully?
Now that you have 'internet jukeboxes' theoretically you could have any track that's ever been released at your fingertips, but surely it's only a smattering of pubs that have these new-fangled things set up? I mean, the majority of pubs patently have 'traditional' jukeboxes which most certainly don't have Whitehouse or Merzbow or Dimanda Gallas (never mind if it's in Margate), surely? You'd have to be a pretty clued-up (or loony) pub owner. The closest I can think of is The Strongrooms in Shoreditch, which has My Bloody Valentine's Loveless or Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space - the latter of which had the 17-minute free-jazz freakout of Cop Shoot Cop, which I was sorely tempted to put on. But come on, 32 minute Evan Parker clarinet solos or Swans' Public Castration is a Good Idea, or Foetus' Scraping a Foetus Off a Wheel? No pub with a traditional jukebox is going to have that.
Reynolds has also managed to find other stuff about Wyatting here.