Monday, May 28, 2012

Wolf Eyes Interview

A recent episode of The Out Door, via Pitchfork, featured a lengthy dissertation on the manifold offshoots of the Wolf Eyes crew; Nate Young, John Olson, Mike Connelly. I know a lot of folks out there became introduced to the gnarly noise underground via the prolific output of these rust belt natives, and in a lot of way they are the prototypical Noise band. Hyper-prolific, questionable quality control, super hands-on and hand-made. I became introduced to terms like lathe troll and circuit bending via these monsters. It is appropriate to consider the remarks of these mainstays, and some of these comments shed some light on recent thoughts i have been delving into.

There was a quote from the John Olson sector that resonated with me. He said:

"We were blindly going forward and not really considering and reflecting, but I think that if people don't stop and consider what they just improvised, they'll never get better."

He was talking about the libetation of learning some music theory, to better understand what he's been creating and embellish upon it. Not to replace the chaos factor but to expound upon it. As he put it, "I could do something that was totally abstract within musical confines."  This shows a clear line from free jazz, where Wolf Eyes have always affiliated, working with legends like Anthony Braxton on the Black Vomit record, through 20th century avant-garde musics, the kind of thing you'd see at a white washed gallery space, probably with some contact mics and lots of quiet groaning. Plates of cheese served afterwards. This raises a question i have long considered, and started to write about, regarding the purpose and possibilities of Noise music, and also the pertinence of music journalism.

Let's face it, there's a WHOLE SHITLOAD of music out there. Why are we all compelled to put it out there? In the case of noise, or any kind of improvised music, the process IS the purpose, and following bands over the span of years is to immerse yrself in their aesthetic, to live in their worlds. Funky tapes, hand-made patches, a non-stop onslaught of releases, probably just to pay for gas to get to the next basement. What we are left with is a career in time-elapse, and the question is: "Is it actually worth listening to? Does this need to exist? Is it merely ego fulfilling, or bullshit knob twiddling? Are these guys fucking with me and taking my money?" I mean, c'mon, Merzbow has released like 500 records. Does it need to exist? But it DOES exist, and i have a curious, librarian brain, so i have the need to KNOW to EXPERIENCE. So its a matter of slowing down the torrent, and looking at the individual droplets.

One thing is that less-than-commercial music isn't given the benefit of attention, or analysis. Bach wrote a shitload of cantatas, and you can be rest assured that every harmony, slur, fortissimo and glissandi has been written about at length. Just because something is made from broken machines and hacked laptops does not mean it is unworthy, or because it wasn't made in some famous studio for a million dollars. Some kid's YouTube or SoundCloud is just as culturally relevant as a Shostakovich quartet. Its a matter of, "What are you trying to say?" and are you pulling it off.

I feel like the rush to constantly innovate is decelerating, as we are all realizing how futile that is. We can't pretend that we haven't listened to 3 TerraBytes worth of music in our lifetimes, no matter how old you are. I can speak to a 20 year old, and be like, "You know, its like gamelan," and they will catch my drift. We're slowing down and taking stock of who we are and where we've been, assessing our strengths and weaknesses. Which is why i am drilling down into individual albums + singular artists. The simple fact of the matter is that my brain is ADD as fuck, and follow-up is a bitch. I'd love to hear every Chopin nocturne; every drip of Masonna's beastly oscillators; every dubstep remix and obscure 12". As we are taking stock of the entire output of recorded history (that's including books and movies) we have the potential to fast-forward evolution, fitting two thousand years into two. But the thing of it is, it requires total self-mastery, utter discipline. We are lost and formless without it. We could become radically evolved, and even solve some of humanity's perpetual woes along the way, but we must not kid ourselves. I often times say i am 'working' on the internet, when i am spacing out and clicking mindlessly. In this time, when there are no Lords and no Saviours, we must be our own gurus and our own taskmasters. But we can't become neurotic and anal, either.

This is the purpose of this esoterically titled 66.6 series. As i'm sure yr aware, there's a popular series of books called the 33 1/3 series, where an author meticulously dissects an album that they love, and expound upon it at length. I somewhat sarcastically modified this to the 66.6 series, which is of course, 66 2/3s, 'cuz i'm a low down dirty necromancer. Rather than focusing upon one single artifact, i will be looking at whole careers, eras and epochs. Trying to look at the bigger picture, and to see what is says about us as humans, and why we listen to such things. I will be talking about records from famous and influential noise musicians, through up and comers, posting relevant cultural artifacts along the way. There's a whole dark continent of heady philosophy that has tied itself onto this beast, and it is the work for which i am most pumped. 

you can read the whole interview here.

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