Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cacophony: Noise Music as a Critique of Civilization

Before I begin:

"The environment we live in is no longer connected to the mix of planetary processes which brought us all into being. It is solely the product of human mental processes. It is real, but only in the way that a theatrical play or a fun house is real. Our artificial environment is there and we can experience it, yet it has been created on purpose by other humans. It is an interpretation of reality, it no longer reveals how nature works and it cannot provide much useful information to human beings who seek to see their own lives as part of some wider natural process. We are left with no frame of reference untouched by human interpretation."

-Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (New York: Quill, 1978), 87.

Mander brings to attention something that I think is vitally lost on a regular basis by people in general and anarchists in particular - EVERYTHING HAS CONTEXT. Failure to examine whatever is at hand without first recognizing context has and continues to be a major problem when addressing civilization, domestication and opposition to all that prevents a liberated existence. I can only imagine the dismissals applied to Warbound and inevitably to this blog, or to any participation I have in the culture that I say I resist...

With the concept of context in mind, I choose to begin this project with what many even in anarcho-primitivist circles would find to be a strange subject.

I have recently had the pleasure of speaking with a few different artists in the noise/integrated sound (its hard to generalize here) world about my interest in the genre as a critique of civilization.

My original interest in this genre originally began with the singer of Integrity's harsh noise project PSYWARFARE. His eccentricities aside, I found the content and form of Psywarfare to be terrifyingly exciting - a chaotic bombardment of feedback, white noise, eerie samples, and even a Blondie song backwards! From there, I was exposed to another Cleveland group, the infamous LOCKWELD, who are known to incorporate power tools, machinery and weapons as part of their music - oftentimes resampled, looped, processed and distorted with the use of an analog synth. In live performances, Lockweld have used power tools such as sanders and metal grinders, and often start fires. In interviews they often cite the dark industrial landscape of our shared hometown as inspiration for the harshness of their sound.

Then, in March of this year, I had the pleasure of seeing Father Of The Flood during and after a performance by the band Deepen The Wound. FOTF is essentially on the opposite side of the integrated sound spectrum, using elements of everyday life and minima, often droning electronics to create striking and stark compositions. Since DTW was very outspoken on their stance against civilization, I assumed that FOTF would share these sentiments, and as I was leaving the show I was able to strike up a conversation with Daniel, the person solely responsible for the project. It turns out I was right, and since then we've had a wonderful correspondence and a growing friendship. An interview with Daniel is availble HERE.

From there, i began contemplating the relationship between the noise genre and a critique of civilization. An incident from my childhood immediately came to mind. When i was younger, my mother suffered a complete breakdown (readers of the first preliminary issue of Warbound will be familiar with this) and was later diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Once, after an episode where she had to be medicated much stronger than usual, she made the remark, "There is so much racket in my head, i just can't take it." Needless to say the entire situation has and to this day does affect me greatly, but that always stuck with me.

"There is so much racket in my head, I just can't take it..."

I feel those words, so real for my mother's everyday experience, are a perfect metaphor for how this culture has invaded our lives. We are a domesticated species, constantly bombarded by a relentless techno-industrial cacophony. Most of the time, we are shell-shocked into submission by the culture, but as always there are some who don't take the breaking - some of those people are the ones who choose to resist in hopes of returning to wildness, but sadly many of the untameable are left broken and neurotic - witness the widespread panic and pathology inherent in these final hours of civilization.

We are overwhelmed, and addiction is a fantastic example of the civilized mentality of "can't have enough"... I think it's interesting that many "overdose" scenes in movies seem to be accompanied by overwhelming noise or intense music...

Sady, domestication also manifests an inverse effect - an increased isolation of ourselves, emotionally and physically, psychically, and so forth. The human animal becomes an island, crammed up against 6 billion other islands, desperately seeking connection, and finding only frustration.

So, you have the extremes in a dance macabre with little hope for our species well-being - there's always a connection between overshoot and collapse, even when we are speaking of the ecology of our "spirit" - and what is more appropriate to complement these extremities and extensive kinds of experience in regards to our environment than a genre that goes from projects that quietly fragment pieces of our everyday experience such as Father Of The Flood to Lockweld using metal grinders and concrete to express the sheer terror of the industrial process? In noise I find a sort of naked expression of the aural experience of civilization, and in that I am absolutely fascinated...

Through my exploration of this issue, I was happy to find yet another project that shared these ideas with me, the Australian outfit Cull, who on their website describes the effort as "one of many voices of the Primal War." I was lucky enough to get an interview in with Cull as well, which is included HERE.

In closing, the latest issue of Green Anarchy featured a piece by John Zerzan entitled "Silence," which provides an excellent compliment to this piece. Read that HERE.


AJ said...

Very glad you sent me a link to your Mp3 and told me to check out this article. Definitely have a new-found respect for the "genre" ... at least in the sense that you're presenting it in.

At least something useful came as a result of Dwid.

christopher said...

someone linked me to this blog and I thought you might enjoy this

this is my project and I'm giving this away for free. Ambient Tribal Anti-Civ Drone / Noise

Tau-Wau-Chee-Hezkaw : Into the Forest (2009)

tracklisting :

1. Nexus
2. The Winter Wind
3. Civilization?
4. Yggrasil Shivers
5. The Chequamegon Speaks
6. Denali
7. The Dogmatic Destruction of All That is Beautiful
8. The Night Belongs to the Wolves
9. Serenity

enjoy and please share with friends.