'Annihilating Noise' book available now

Started by Mr Klang, March 20, 2021, 06:36:48 PM

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Mr Klang

Available now:

Paul Hegarty (author of 'Noise/Music')'s 'Annihilating Noise' book (incl Nurse With Wound, The New Blockaders, David Jackman / Organum and others) (Bloomsbury.)

Special edition includes TNB / Haters 'Null Bei Ohr' / 'Wind Licked Dirt' 7" (Ultra Niche), available exclusively via the label.

Full contents:

Introduction: Where Is Noise as Practice and Theory Today?
I. Ungrounding
1. Earth Apathy: A General Ecology of Sound
2. Catch and Capture: 'Field' and 'Recording' in Field Recording
3. The Empty Channel: Noise Music and the Pathos of Information
4. Eon Cores: Noise Prospecting in A Personal Sonic Geology
II. Unsettled
5. Is There Black Noise?
6. After Generation: Pharmakon, Puce Mary and the Spatialized, Gendered Avant-Garde
7. The Silence
III. Unmoored
8. Playing Economies
9. The Spectacle of Listening
10. The Restoration: Vinyl and the Dying Market
11. The Hallucinatory Life of Tape
IV. Undermined
12. Supplementing (in) Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
13. Less Familiar: The Near-Music of David Jackman and Organum
14. BUNK: Origins and Copies in Nurse With Wound and The New Blockaders
15. Vile Heretical Misprision: Dante's Commedia as Metal Theory
16. Noise Hunger Noise Consumption: The Question of How Much is Enough



This sounds really interesting, especially the chapters on field recordings and silence.

holy ghost

I have a copy already - I preordered last year using (shhhhhh) Amazon and it arrived about a month ago, haven't cracked into it yet but the last one Noise/Music was really (painfully) academic, not a bad read but I definitely appreciated a book like Japanoise more. I'm getting the feeling this one is a touch looser just from skimming through it quickly.

I would probably read a chapter at a time while working on other books rather than go whole hot into trying to read this in a week.

Soloman Tump

Yes this looks like an interesting read.  I do however have a stack of books that I need to read first but i'll stick it on my birthday wishlist,...



I have this book, and I'm working through it whilst in 'House Arrest' AKA Lockdown. I've finished part 1, and have a feeling some might be "disappointed" in its relatedness to 'Noise Music'. So I've attempted a précis – so far – to which i've been unable to resist comment! I hope our moderator doesn't mind me posting this, it might be helpful, and of course all IMO. If there is not too much flak I'll try to continue in this thread, moderator if not willing then not anti. Also I'd be glad if anyone wants to chat about this...

BTW I'm not advocating the text – just giving *my* understanding and comments on it.

Annihilating Noise – by Paul Hegarty.

(Paul Hegarty is a Professor of French @ The University of Nottingham,  writer on Noise/Music,  runs the experimental record label dotdotdotmusic, member of Maginot with Romain Perrot – Vomir.)

The introduction 'Nothing Is Not The End' centres around 'stopping' and a music post 1960s of transgression. "Noise rejects, it does not build.." It's very brief focus is on HNW in particular that of Vomir," - his Black Box, mainly how HNW tracks end, suddenly or in fades, and summarizes the book as being  "about how noise relates to music and beyond".

Part One. Ungrounding.
Earth Apathy: A General Ecology of Sound.
Discusses mainly sound art, sonic art and its theories covering such terms as dark ecology. Bataille is central to this concluding in the noise of the mouth, particularly the carnivore, (Lions) eating. He discusses various natural sound phenomena including those found in Space, - viz. Radio Waves, (he seems to ignore the difference in the lack of any medium in the electromagnetic spectrum unlike noise, which uses air or water) The main focus is in the 'natural' sounds produced by nature. He cites Douglas Kahn,  Jacob Smith, David Rothenberg, Francisco Lopez's La Selva as examples of sonic artists working with 'natural' (animality) sounds.

Catch and Capture: 'Field' and 'Recording' in Field Recording.
Hegarty begins by posing the idea of the original field sound recordings made early on in the 20th C could be thought of as recordings of 'what is'. He adds that from the 60s field recordings were 'musicalized' by the likes of Cage and Oliveros*, but says no more on this. He makes the point of the idea from there being a pre existing 'field' to be recorded to that of the recorder choosing and so effectively 'creating' the field.  He then documents briefly a number of cases of ethnographic and nature recordings. From 1977 R. Murray Schafer's 'Five Village Landscapes', the recording of the sounds of the World Trade Center (1999) by Stephen Vitiello, &William Basinski's. He references La Selva et al,and various recordings made of animals, Pilot Whales, recordings from Antarctica, and field trips, Hein Schoer's Two Weeks in Albert Bay... * He mentions Lucier's I am Sitting in a Room in passing, but strangely no mention of field recordings used in a more 'constructive' vein.  Steve Reich's use of field recordings or Gavin Bryars... or Robert Morris' 'Box with the Sound of Its Own Making'  - or The Pink Floyd's 'Grantchester Meadows' ...'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast' for that matter!  As for noise I've reviewed a number of 'noise works', obviously not HNW, in which field recordings form a part , recent examples being of urban life in the USA, and  rural Greece. I guess the bottom line here is that far from any 'field' recording being of what is already there, it's a very selective process.

The Empty Channel: Noise Music and the Pathos of Information.
Throughout this chapter, issues of "code, noise and entropy" are underpinned by Claude Shannon ("the father of information theory...") & and Warren Weaver's theories (in which the entropy is an average level of "information" ... or "uncertainty", called "Shannon entropy") together with those of Ludwig Boltzmann ("he provided the current definition of entropy... a measure of statistical disorder of a system.")  I think it's important to note the different meanings in the term 'entropy' above – as does Hegarty*. "Shannon Entropy", Hegarty proposes, accounts for why Noise Music continues, whilst HNW rather than encoding is the production from systems of coding which refuse decryption. (HNW doesn't make specific sounds- codes, but is the sound of the electronic devices, roar of feedback, distortion.) There are reflections on cosmic background radiation from the Big Bang, whose detritus is the process towards the final Boltzmann heat death, as noise. Russolo picks up on this idea of the universal noise of collapse and industrialization both at odds and a product of nature. What unites these ideas is the idea of definition of 'what noise is'.  The idea of an objective answer – or latter an algorithmic account, is rejected by Hegarty. What noise is is subjective, and changes, has multiple understandings. Hegarty offers the idea of 'coding' as an alternative to the search for any "true meaning of noise". What I think he means and does is examine the methods recording and communication of sound in which noise plays an inevitable part. At a deeper level? Noise in effect subjects coding to permanent recoding. (IOW Noise fucks things up, even theories of what it is.) There is a detailed explanation of Shannon / Weaver theory, to the effect that the more you communicate the more you have information the more you have noise. In the case of noise music the information is lost, and so there can be no successful decoding but the listener becomes the 'transmitter'. (IDK? The listener decides if there is any meaning- or not?) "To summarize" for  Shannon & Weaver noise is part of an excess, whereas with Boltzmann it is an absence. Noise music is the over saturation of sounds, codes, which effectively becomes "formless" empty, HNW? Taken from a Weaver quote, "the selected message may consist of ... words, or pictures, music, etc." Hegarty picks up on the 'etc.', and riffs with this. He calls it a "strange surplus" one which is a catch-all perhaps nailing down what noise is? The fragmentary nature of noise, its sub-genres and refusal of definition, he cites the many works of Merzbow as example, and the various other noise genres, can be caught by this etc. The difficulty of pinning this etc. down is found in the difficulty, as example, the engineers at GZ digital had in processing Vomir tracks, or the seeming difficulty in a CD player in accessing noise. From here we see the digital 'glitch' is also incorporated into the etc. Glitch Music. All this and the refusal to communicate of HNW and the intent at being avant garde in other work is the dialectics (opposites) of what noise is. Finally Spotify is seen as the possible algorithmic fix of noise, however in its failure to encode silent tracks noise eludes Spotify, the etc. and the algorithmic. "too much sound, not enough sound".
* Some might be critical of applying science to art for good reasons, wiki 'Sokal Affair', 'Category mistake', 'Apples and oranges'... and  moreover the 'heat death' scenario (found in Brassier's Nihil Unbound, Lyotard's solar catastrophe...) is only one of many, now including the more popular 'multiverse' (Max Tegmark ) and other scenarios such as those of John Barrow, Penrose's 'Cycles of Time' ...  or the  'simulation hypothesis'. IOW it can be 'fashionable nonsense' to apply science and maths to other disciplines, such as Art or Psychology,  e.g. Lacan - 'The erectile organ...is equivalent to the square root of -1.', as literally and so determinately being true. Err – no!

Eon Cores: Noise Prospecting in A Personal Sonic Geology.
For me this is the most 'difficult' chapter so far. It revolves  around an exhibition "A Personal Sonic Geology" @ le plateau Paris 2015 and the accompanying book, in which Hegarty is a contributor. Of "films realised by Mathieu Copeland and Philippe Decrauzat since 2012... offering us a re-reading of a history of modernity seen through visual arts and music. 'Artists ""Boyle Family, a mental map, a waterfall, a desert, FM Einheit, an exhibition, an event, a factory paint, Ellen Fullman, Gilles Furtwängler, a cave, Marcia Hafif, Peter Halley, Fritz Hauser, a printery, Tom Johnson, Ulrich Krieger, Alan Licht, Lydia Lunch, John M Armleder, Agathe Max, Gustav Metzger, a spinning mill.' Theories of noise are discussed as is the history of Avant Garde Musics and Art in the context of negativity, Dada, and in music the dada of music is 'Industrial Music' –  Throbbing Gristle  of challenging a "consensually fascist society" ... "This moment is at the heart of  Decrauzat and  Copeland's work" ... "works as disruption against expectations of 'correct', polite, 'appropriate' gallery sound." in which Gustav Metzger is "essential to any geological approach to sound and music" - 'geology' the term compared to Nietzsche's genealogy and Foucault's archaeology is "the way Decrauzat and  Copeland can perform an acoustology" ... "A Personal Sonic Geology uses counter-flows, explosions, blend and hybridize... complex and shifting structure ... with the realized geology." My difficulties are many. Those interested in the genre I assume might, as I do, not recognise this exhibition as being significant in 'Noise'.  The only trace left is the book- a French publication I haven't read. I'm not aware of any influence from this exhibition. Further from the little I've seen it is not anything unexpected in contemporary  "gallery sound" - more the usual audio projections seen in prestigious exhibition spaces such as Tate Modern or The ICA (genesis of TG), places which  challenge a "consensually fascist society" - 'cough!'. Nooo... I should add a possible alternative explanation to the use of the term 'geology' – it comes from "The Geology of Morals" - in Deleuze and Guattari's 'A Thousand Plateaus - the geological process of stratification, sedimentary strata on a plane or plateau where 'lines of flight' seek to free themselves as bodies without organs. It is strange no reference is made, but just how this chapter relates to noise is perhaps my main problem.

Hopefully to be continued????



next section- and not so good, sorry for the digressions but hip hop and rap = black noise?

Part Two Unsettled
Introduces the 3 chapters whose commonality in major or lesser forms deal with 'privilege' and discrimination, in Gender and Race.

Is There Black Noise?

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam -  Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, has been appearing regularly on British TV over the last year in government briefings on Covid-19. His answers, often peppered with analogies, especially from football, are usually detailed and long. However recently he was asked a detailed question by the press - "should... could... given this & that... to which his answer was "No". So - "Is There Black Noise?" - "No". I'm not saying there isn't, IDK, but this is my précis of this chapter. Hegarty begins by speaking of "Experimental music" but like "Avant Garde" these are dead terms of dead genres. It might be true "Lloyd Whitesell identifies as canonical late modern art's refusal and erasure of race in its wish to approach emptiness" but that finished 50 years ago. Peruse the ICA's catalogue you will see how gender, race, LBGT+ issues predominate. Steve McQueen - director of 12 years a slave, won the Turner Prize 22 years ago, Chris Ofili exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1997 and won the Turner Prize in 1998, in 2003 he was selected to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale for the British Pavilion  in collaboration with David Adjaye. (Grayson Perry Turner Prize winner in 2003. In 2008 he was ranked number 32 in The Daily Telegraph's list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture" though neither black nor gay was and is not concerned with 'emptiness') More recently Kara Walker's Fons Americanus is a 13-metre tall working fountain, referring to the transatlantic slave trade... Walker is acclaimed for her candid explorations of race, sexuality and violence. Zanele Muholi currently (gallery closed) exhibiting @ Tate Modern, Muholi describes themself as a visual activist. From the early 2000s, they have documented and celebrated the lives of South Africa's Black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities... I could go on and sure there is racial discrimination, and "erasure of race" whilst it might be true of late modern art, but modernism, and modern art ended officially at 3 pm, on March 16, 1972. So I think Hegarty has a problem, he briefly mentions the typical mainly white male DIY noise shows, invokes Japanoise as being 'experimental' discusses the 17th - 19th C slave trade, Treatment of people who emigrated to the UK from the West Indies... and the preponderance of African Americans in Jazz. His main thrust to answer his question in the affirmative is to blur definitions, "Flying Lotus ( I had to wiki "Steven Ellison record producer, musician, DJ, filmmaker, and rapper" ) creates a post-genre space between many musics" and so Death Grips, Public Enemy, Ice T and Chuck D are placed in a grey area where he can say "Yes". But there is more, the title of the Beatles White Album is significant! But here is the real low point, "The use of 'white' for a completely full spectrum sound is not neutral"  I need to pause here – maybe this "Arvo Pärt is singled out for making 'symbolically white music'" quoted from Lloyd Whitesell... is lower? Or  Blackness and Whiteness in art touched on in  Rauchenberg's white painting, Reinhardt's black painting and Malevitch's black AND white paintings. But back to "White noise" - white noise =  full, black = empty" and so black noise is "socially excluded". Fine! But white noise is called white because it is the full spectrum of sound, to quote thicky peadia "White noise draws its name from white light".  After arguing or implying that rap, hip hop are noise, Hegarty now introduces Body Count's (I had to look up this as well - 'American heavy metal band') Bloodlust album, because it has a track "No Lives Matter". From which he can discuss BLM, though again not the recent events around George Floyd.  Finally there is some discussion of  Zeal and Ardor - "the band mixes sounds of African-American spirituals with black metal"  So there is for Hegarty Black Noise, which is unlike free jazz which does not see colour (bad) but a noise which is black – which does see colour (good), though is nothing to do with the genre 'Noise' in music but lies in rap, hip-hop and black metal? So -" Is There Black Noise?" - well IDK, but has Hegarty shown there to be a black noise within the noise genre, "No".

After Generation: Pharmakon, Puce Mary and the Spatialized, Gendered Avant Garde.

This chapter begins with some general discussion of what noise is, (which I will reserve for the end of this précis), and some discussion of The Avant Garde. As above this is also mistaken, generally the avant garde was a modernist phenomena and both are now well and truly over, dead, deceased, pushing up the daisies, with the  choir angelic... Hegarty invokes spatiality and from that temporality and maginaity, margins in which I think he sites the 'avant garde' in particular Pauline Oliveros, who he rightly sees as marginalized in a bad way, for being a woman and a lesbian, and not a "Great Man". He avoids then Cage's homosexuality? Worse he avoids any mention of Delia Derbyshire, I couldn't believe this and had to check the index. And Daphne Oram, Else Marie Pade... he writes,  "This chapter is not about female visibility or presence, but about not being in the Margin." I'm uncertain of this point. He mentions a number of women involved in 'performance art', Simone Forti, Judy Chicago, Carolee Schneemann, Dara Birbaum et al.  Notably Marina Abramović. Spending time describing Yoko Ono's cut piece, a remarkable work, but not sonically involved, unlike her work in Grapefruit, the collaboration with Lennon in The Two Virgins, Cambridge 68, Life with the Lions etc. These performance artists are seen a squeal to the work of COUM Transmissions. He mentions in name only Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon, Diamanda Galas, Anne Clark, Karen Finlay, Beate Bartel and Gudrun Gut as emerging from no wave and punk.. but then goes on to briefly focus on 'sexist imaginary'. And I think makes the appalling omission of the misogyny, of the blatant use of sexuality, mutilation found in Industrial, P.E. and Noise. Almost excusable as such objectification of women as bodies of exploitation is often seen as part of the "nobility" of the Marquis De Sade. There is more to read in the Japanoise scene, from Yoshimi P-We, Chie Mukai, Sachiko M, Yasuko Onuki and Wata. Junko Hiroshige is singled out for other than being name checked in a discussion of her collaborations with Sutcliffe Jugend, Mattin et al. Part II moves on to discuss Pharmakon and Puce Mary. Hegarty takes some space to discuss Pharmakon's recorded and live performances, particularly the Bestial Burden an album which "as being about the sense of her body betraying her, and the fragility of illness... the practices of surgical intervention." That Jacques Derrida has a famous text, Plato's Pharmacy, Hegarty sees this in her "division of voice"?  I'm not sure about this, the story in Derrida is of the invention of writing being a boon and a curse, as in the case of a 'drug'  being both a cure and a poison. (J.D. Is asserting writing's priority over speech). I can't see any connection. Puce Mary like Pharmakon uses processed voice and electronics, in this case "Highly composed... Percussive sounds and gasps surround the spoken word part. The narrative would seem to be a violent sexual one... it is easy to hear this piece as a variant of industrial music's fascination for BDSM... Almost all the tracks on her alums have clear beginnings, middles and ends..." It's probably OK for many that in a text on noise, Industrial and Power Electronics could be included, not so sure of books on meditation (silence) films or performance art, certainly in the detail here. Also the problem I think for Hegarty is that he defines Noise as essentially negative, especially HNW in which no narrative can exist. He does however state that these two artists are more categorized by PE and Industrial, and obviously genres and sub genres do merge, but likewise noise, harsh noise and HNW does have a particular lack of meaning to which Hegarty refers, however narratives are at odds with 'Annihilating Noise'. And if he is being inclusive rather than concentrate on 'Annihilation' then there are far too many omissions, Troniks, Hospital Records, and RRR and their releases, the various noise festivals of numerous acts of annihilation, and maybe to explore why such annihilation of narrative is at odds with PE, Industrial and generally with music. For myself at least that is an interesting phenomena of noise, its 'anti everything'. Now some comments on the opening of this chapter.  - Just as it is dangerous for those in the humanities and arts to employ physics and mathematics as evidence, it is also more so when philosophy is employed, for whilst Science and Mathematics has no purchase on the arts, and visa versa (Van Gough's sunflowers are not botany) philosophy does have a purchase. The only problem is getting it right, and unfortunately Hegarty at the beginning of this chapter gets it wrong. "This putatively melancholy effect...(of noise) is subjective, but only in the Kantian sense of requiring a subject on which to work"  For Kant we never have access to 'things in themselves' which includes noise as well as mountains, washing machines, sunsets and other people. Kant might be wrong, but that is not an issue. "Noise is spatial" maybe – but not for Kant as Time and Space are fictions. They don't exist in themselves but are notions we have in built in our heads in order to understand the world. What is out there producing what we hear as noise or music- for Kant is forbidden. "a negativity in the sense devised by Hegel to explain the world as a set of oppositions that mutate over time but never merge"  Hegel is notoriously tricky, The whole of his Logic, certainly the get-go – exists outside time, starts with Being which immediately (timeless) becomes or is Nothing, Being and Nothing being both different and identical... and are 'Becoming' which immediately vanishes into determinate Being which contains both indeterminate Being and indeterminate Nothing – is 'determined' by these... I wont go on! But if you've read this so far you see what I mean?  Or to go on maybe this Hegel is more like HN and HNW in its real or apparent incomprehensibility, or the deliberate incomprehensibility of certain continental philosophy. As if HN and HNW fucks with Music / Sound, these philosophies fuck with thinking. Well my bad!

The Silence

Opens with a discussion of a dystopian silence found in recent films, A Quite Place, Bird Box and The Silence. All three deal with hearing, its loss or the need to keep silent from predation.(Annihilating Noise was written before the Covid-19 pandemic and has no reference to it – the actual silence of a year ago's first lockdown in the UK was a very quiet time... and maybe the pandemic's other affect on fictional apocalypses awaits exploration and comment) Hegarty states he will address silence in the work of George Michelson Foy (American writer and journalist - in Zero Decibels: The Quest For Absolute Silence Paperback – 2014), Thich Naht Hanh (Zen master – writer of the book  Silence The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise) and Erling Kagge (a Norwegian explorer, publisher, author, lawyer, art collector, entrepreneur and politician. Writer of Silence: In the Age of Noise.), implying that they fail and that variants of near silence get much closer (to silence) than these "worthy attempts". (The relevance to Noise and Silence as cultural products of these 3 writers seeking refuge from noise pollution is hopefully addressed) He then devotes 4 pages to Cage's 4' 33", detailing its origins and first and subsequent performances. He cites Seth Kim-Cohen's In the Blink of an Ear- a text on non cochlear sound art, and Craig Dworkin's No Medium in which is a list of silent works. 4' 33" he claims, has "been understood as the beginning of sound art, of experimental music, of listening, of field recording. It could be construed as the beginning of noise, which it is and it isn't" He summarizes the significance of the piece as in Kim-Cohen's terms as undercutting actual listening, which relates not only to Zen, Rauchenberg's Erased de Kooning Drawing,  Michael Asher's empty galleries and Robert Barry's closed gallery. (Hegarty ignores Duchamp's Fountain – which like 4' 33" is likewise seminal, in its case of leaving "retinal" art. IMO a major omission) "Conversely", he states,  Tara Rodgers in Toward a Feminist Historiography of Electronic Music sees the piece as negating identity, keeping certain individuals out- silencing others (of the underprivileged due to race and gender?)  and finally 4' 33" as opening up of listening, found in the work of Pauline Oliveros et al. Hegarty now returns to the three authors above. Who in over 8 pages Kagge and Hanah see meditative silence as a way of finding oneself in a 'noisy' world, whereas Foy it seems just wants, and fails, to experience 0 decibels. In passing Bells are significant to Hanah, 'The voice of the Buddha' and Kagge whose "ideas on music are odd" focuses on the silence in the EDM 'drop'. There is in this an implied criticism of these who are privileged more than others in their subjectivist search for silence. We then in the context of this spiritual silence abruptly segue to digital silence of the CD and Minidisc. And though these media are capable of silence, unlike the failed silences of cassette and vinyl, they do have mechanical noises and subsequently have the noise of these analogue media used as part of a musical aesthetic, as is the extended silence on such tracks as The Pet Shop Boys, Go West.  The chapter concludes by brief mentions of The New Blockaders Nul Be Ohr, Vulfpecks's Sleepify, Ministry's Dark Side of the Spoon, The New Blockadrers Eparter les Bourgeois, Lopez's Paris Hiss and Lucier's I am Sitting in a Room- the later utilizing the medium's recording of itself. Something which Hegarty himself did with his Pas de vie eternelle, mais seulement un emmerdement permanet. A supposedly noisy Vomir cassette which turned out to be blank, was re-recorded about 8 times to amplify the tape noise and released as Vomir/Safe Pas de vie eternelle...2013. In conclusion Hegarty makes the point (I think) that noise it seems must employ such un-recorded media sounds to stop the occurrence of music and also noise. My criticism – ignoring what might be thought as irrelevances - would be I suppose  that silence isn't noise, or much to do with it, and though Cage's 4' 33" is very significant, like The Fountain is its real significance is in it effectively terminating Music and as the fountain terminated Art, in its traditional and modernist sense. All sounds are Music, all objects Art. The same now goes in conceptual poetry. What this means for noise, is perhaps that it's freely allowable to any and everyone – but not in the sense of what was once Western Art and the Avant Garde. 'That magic feeling of nowhere to go' – Macca.

Soloman Tump


Quote from: Soloman Tump on March 25, 2021, 08:55:37 PM
JLIAT, you should write a book.


I've written several, not on noise particularly, but a number of papers on noise. Here http://www.jliat.com/txts/index.html. The idea of darkness and noise presented @ Falmouth http://www.jliat.com/txts/pop%20goes%20reason.pdf is perhaps an attempt at black noise - i.e. 'Noise is black...'  The http://www.jliat.com/txts/noise-is-stupid.pdf was delivered at an event in Cork hosted by Hegarty.

But it's one thing to write and another to get published. Though my thinking and writing on noise is mainly theoretical which is a problem, the ordinary noiser maybe isn't that bothered- and why should they be. (I don't think they *should* – in brief my theories revolve around noise and art *escaping* theory..!) The world of Academia in the humanities is also difficult as its very much driven by trends and political correctness. I'm aware of many examples @ presentations and conferences. I remember one guy studying at Goldsmiths and writing a paper on some pop genre, new wave or something who was trying to use Badiou's set theory – who admitted to me over a glass of wine he had no clue. Here is the problem, as a good example, I know a little of set theory, but even Rudy Rucker author of Infinity and the Mind admits he is lost in the recent work. If you wiki The Sokal affair you will see what I mean...

But I do think there is missing a good book on noise. By which I mean Industrial, Power Electronic, Noise proper, Harsh Noise and Harsh Noise wall. (and perhaps the other sub genres – black – dark metal???) One which traces the origins, the labels and various individuals. My knowledge is insufficient. The noise books i've come across generally focus on other music, avant garde, prog rock even as subjects.

One last thing re The Humanities, they are in something of a crisis. Lecturers @ HE are judged by papers presented, and books published. A common thread is to combine several papers into a book, as in the case of Hegarty's here.  Maybe someone like Ron Lessard could attempt a noise book which painted a reasonable historical picture?


Part Three Unmoored.

The introduction to the next four chapters has "the context that noise refers to has changed dramatically, and not just as a result of inhabiting a post-pandemic, post shut-down (if it even is post)." Obviously this late addition was not late enough to see it is not 'post'. This 'context' unsurprisingly is I think Late Capitalism. So the first chapter appears to argue, economics, "Now that music is mostly free". The second chapter relates to the shift to spending in music to equipment, notably headphones.  The third deals with the resurgence of Vinyl, the last to Tape, but more as a means of cut ups, no mention of noise and its ubiquitous use of cassettes.

Playing Economies

Begins by discuss improvisation, referencing Dereck Bailey via Ben Watson's book, Free Jazz, along with "'krautrock',post-jazz, fee music, soul jams..." Though improvisation is "explicitly aware  social practice... this has never permeated as far as popular music"?  But have – it seems – "permeated  the avant-garde sound/ music/noise world" - "However, for all its noble qualities, improvising needs to be questioned. To cut this short I think this implies though free improvisation seems democratic, "militantly dialectical" and community establishing, there is at the same time the elitism of the improviser, and still the gap (social) between audience and performers.  Though rock bands and orchestras have a community, improvisation is less hierarchical. The second section switches to "commodity".  "objects made in avant-garde sound are objects of trade" A commodity fetishism exemplified by the Merzbox. Through the proliferation of Merzbow and Vomir releases can defeat the collector – and devalues these works in comparison to collecting classic rock box sets. Not only this but "the breakdown of music economies... " together with the avant-garde's subverting of capitalism means " why would an avant-garde improviser or noise musician want to be paid?" All of this ends in failure, "is a permanent, paradoxical and utopian outlook suggested by content, form, practice of those musics. Failure is not something bad, but the only thing that is not wrong."

The Spectacle of Listening

This chapter falls into two distinct sections (IMO), first the act of listening, second the devices used for listening. It seems "as writers never tire of pretending, the ears cannot be closed". As a tangent I seem to remember some mammals can, sea going? But what for me is maybe missed here is the 'listening', 'seeing' dichotomy. (Ears can be closed its one function of hands) And this relates to Light and Dark. Firstly we are biologically adapted to daytime waking, nocturnal animals are better listeners, watch a cat's ears... which means we are perhaps naturally scared of the dark and things that go bump in the night. Blackness, darkness is not only scary but deeply fascinating. Add to that – hearing is the last sense to go when becoming unconscious. Patients under anaesthetic in operating theatres report remembering the conversation of surgeons, *alarm* clocks, fire and burglar alarms wake us. And evidently on dying, sound is the last sense to go!?  I digress! Hegarty discusses the ubiquitous availability of sources, from digital and internet radio through to TV catch up services. He complains of mobile/cell phone users... a pity he misses bandcamp and soundcloud etc. He picks up on the history of listening by virtue of paintings, Vermeer's Guitar Player and Manet's Concert aux Tuileries, and Cafe Concert, "we can see a very specific (and gender-class-located) listening at play".  (missing an opportunity at political correctness in Munch's Scream and "His Master's Voice", painted by Francis Barraud of a terrier-mix dog named Nipper listening to a wind-up disc gramophone. The HMV logo.) He moves on to note that  audiences being silent was not always the case, and the avant garde attempts in the 20th C to provoke a silent audience. Citing again 4' 33" and Yves Klien's Monotone Symphony. Then in the 50s audiences of rock and Roll became an "ecstatic communion" Things "go private" in the 80s with the walkman, and portable with the boombox and ghettoblaster. The last device is the iPod, there the discussion moves from the cheap ear "buds" through the more expensive and finally headphones (Audio-Technica?) which are as much a fashion statement. In posing the question "Can listening be stolen" - but "in 2020" the only worthwhile things are listening devices. Maybe, this paper was written in 2014, in 2021 from my casual gaze, iPods and headphones have been replaced by iPhones, Samsung Galaxys & Wireless Bluetooth Earphones. And I might add with the smartphone maybe the terminus of any new *types* of hardware-  the smartphone being the only accessory needed for life =  money, travel, communication, gaming, shopping, reading, getting a Pizza or Uber taxi, video & music – both listening, viewing and making, reading this! and proof of ones Covid-19 vaccination?

The Restoration: Vinyl and the Dying Market

Anyone who ventures into a record store (or once did before – u-no-wat) will be aware of the return of Vinyl. "For so long the province of ... [the] 'audiophile', vinyl is breaking free..." From the replaced LP, by "CD and then the (legal) [Hegarty is joking?] download" listeners now "rush to the 'record' store to buy LPs to file alongside box sets."  But now not only are classic old LP releases re-released on Vinyl but music never released on LP and new releases are. "Every major album comes out on vinyl now" "coloured vinyl, heavyweight, now double, now triple, now boxed... Combine all desirable traits in the Queen back catalogue on (admittedly well-chosen) different colour vinyls for c. £285" (now £300 used on ebay) Hegarty goes on to explain the economics of pressing vinyl, with the larger quantities being cheaper per unit. And that companies such as GZ now wont touch runs under 500, in the days of communism it would do 100. I'm not sure of his point, once the master is made production is quick and simple and relatively cheap. I think he misses the point, one made by Chris Ruen that "free access to music would mean less would be made" When he talks of "private capitalist music hoarders" And I think is mistaken in "Music has ended up as an exemplary harbinger of change" not because of global capitalism, the mistake being that this consumerism is nothing to do with 'music'.  If you've watched the film or read the book High Fidelity you will see how niche collectors objects become 'weaponized' by capitalism as 'stuff'. It's nothing to do with music as any more is Damien Hirt's skull (For the Love of God ) is anything to do with what was once art. And nothing to do with noise unless the stuff, merzbox et al is effectively just bitcoin.

The Hallucinatory Life of Tape

First a warning, this chapter does not mention Noise (Industrial, PE etc.) and it's historical and ever persistent, if not resurgent, intimate relation to the cassette tape (and xeroxed insert). Hegarty first raises the idea of tape as a part of the history of recording sound. From the wax cylinder through to the digital.  He states " Many critics have come to question perfection as ever having been possible in audio media." The ever improvement making the prior redundant, though now with vinyl not the case. Tape he sees as being both part of this narrative and having one of its own (though here not in Noise).  As a passing irrelevance how could a 'perfect recording' be made. Keep it simple, lets say I'm listening to someone playing a piano, a perfect recording might be possible for me with the technology to record and reproduce the signals travelling from my ears to my brain. But it would not be perfect for any other listener in the room. Even more pedantically this recoding would not be 'perfect' as my mental state, general feelings would not be the same, my reception would then be different. The  'perfect' reproduction would be an identical experience, one in which the listener would be unaware of any previous performance. In other words a perfect reproduction is impossible. To repeat is to repeat differently. Think of Groundhog Day, Phil Connors experiences a new and different repetition of the day, whilst all the others do not, their repetitions are perfect and so non existent (for them). Enough! Hegarty gives a brief history of the development of tape which concludes in the use of it as a creative medium itself. "cutting the tape up and reorganizing, through reconnecting the separated bits. John Cage (in his Fontana Mix [1958] and William Burroughs both saw the immense potential in new work.."   and Musique concrete. "With the cassette, ownership of material, or of creativity, is stretched further" from personal recordings to the 'mix tape'. Hegarty spends some time discussing the mix tape, for it only being replaced by iPods, CDs, Cdrs and setting these to shuffle. Hegarty then points out the difference between the  "the transparency of recording media held by musique concrete" not shared by "Adorno, Lucier, Pierre Schaeffer" - I thought Schaeffer was an originator of  musique concrete? But I think his point is seeing extra qualities in and from the recorded material. Adorno is a strange example as he "looked to the record as asocial object, gathering the family unit around the gramophone player." There is some discussion of this, though irrelevant to 'tape'.  (Well Adorno is a "Name") In passing he mentions "the banality of getting up and putting on the record again" - irrelevant to tape, but back in the day if you taped down the lever which detected the next disc falling down to play on a dansette, it would continually repeat play the LP, driving parents crazy. I've still got a Sony Hi Fi Unit which you can do the same with  cassette, at the end the heads move (you don't need to reverse the cassette) and the tape reverses, playing potentially for ever, and of course 8 track does the same. Hegarty then spends a couple of pages discussing Beckett's play Krapp's last Tape, according to wiki is based on "Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil". We then have more of a discussion on Burroughs, "Tape will always exceed the intention of its operator... the cut-up intervenes directly in the symbiotic evolution of recording and the human (which) ... takes tape into the realm of recombinant DNA."  "At a literal level, this can be seen in the succession of forms of recording media.." VHS, Betamax though unlike Darwinian evolution (he mentions)  the inferior can succeed down to marketing techniques. He then discusses the tape system on the Voyager spacecraft 'When Voyager 1 is unable to communicate directly with the Earth, its digital tape recorder (DTR) can record about 67 megabytes of data for transmission at another time.' And a final mention of the disintegration found in the tape works of Alvin Lucier and William Basinski. Tape works using phased loops by Reich, the time lag accumulator used by Riley and Fripp, tape used in The BBCs radiophonic workshops even the Melotron and much else, the whole mutitrack process which enabled the change in pop- notably George Martin's work with The Beatles... and probably more is omitted. - Teac and Tascam multi track, the legends of the Revox A77 and Nakamichi 1000ZXL ... http://www.hifi-classic.net/review/nakamichi-1000zxl-321.htm "At the usual measuring level (20 dB below the 0-dB indication), Nakamichi specifies a frequency-response deviation of ±0.5 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz-the tightest specification we have ever seen on a cassette deck and so close to the limits of our automatic chart-recording equipment that we had to double-check using spot-frequency measurements. Our spot checks, moreover, put the - 0.5-dB points at 17 Hz and 24 kHz, using the ferric EX-II, with - 3-dB points at 13 Hz and 26 kHz. It is hard to conceive of any meaningful improvement on such a response... Our only disappointment is that, having tested it, we must now return it to the manufacturer."

We have had explained the economics of improvisation and noise as its "failure", though I didn't follow this, Listening seemed to boil down to the idea that the listening devices, especially headphones have increased in significance economically at least to the now 'free' availability of music, albeit at times illegal. The only thing worth stealing are the cool headphones. The resurgence of Vinyl is mostly rock music, and now a big business with no room for small runs, and cassette without any mention of its ever increasing importance in noise, (PE and Industrial) small scale and at times hand made editions which I think is unique to the genre, to the extent of being better thought of to many than Cdr. These omissions would be in themselves problematic in a book on Noise. BUT, I'm no collector of noise, my knowledge of the broad range of artists is limited, my interest is more theoretical – obviously. But – apart from these omissions there are others. In Vinyl no mention of Lathe Cuts, of Peter King, of the flexi disc, all found in Noise, moreover and even more radical in noise are the releases on Floppy disk!, on Micro Cassette and USB pen drives VHS and IDK but somewhere Betamax and U-Matic! If Noise is perverse, (and much of it is) it's perverse not only in sound but in media, and then we should add packaging! I don't think any genre can match noise for either of these, OK the badly Xeroxed Cassette is de rigueur, but CDs wrapped in barbed wire, clamped between wood, packed with road kill, or sealed into a BMW!

One more section to go...

Mr Klang


'(Paul Hegarty is a Professor of French @ The University of Nottingham,  writer on Noise/Music,  runs the experimental record label dotdotdotmusic, member of Maginot with Romain Perrot – Vomir.)'

Paul's dotdotdot label recently folded. Paul now runs Ultra Niche, the first release (a split TNB / Haters 7" ('Null Bei Ohr' / 'Wind Licked Dirt') relating to 'The Silence' chapter) comes exclusively with the 'Annihilating Noise' special edition.


'But I do think there is missing a good book on noise. By which I mean Industrial, Power Electronic, Noise proper, Harsh Noise and Harsh Noise wall.'

There are a few non-academic Noise (incl Industrial, PE, HNW, etc.) books available including 'Industrial Musics,' 'Fight Your Own War,' 'Sounds Of The Underground,' 'Unofficial Release,' 'Noise War' and 'Industrial Music For Industrial People' although the latter two are in Japanese ('Noise War' was written by Masami Akita.)


''Noise/Music' was really (painfully) academic.'

The same could be said of 'Annihilating Noise' although the chapters on NWW / TNB and David Jackman / Organum are more reader-friendly.

holy ghost

Quote from: Mr Klang on March 27, 2021, 07:03:24 PM''Noise/Music' was really (painfully) academic.'

The same could be said of 'Annihilating Noise' although the chapters on NWW / TNB and David Jackman / Organum are more reader-friendly.

I can definitely see that from a casual skim, I even found the font size in Noise/Music was painful to read whereas the layout of Annihilating Noise seems a bit more user friendly.


Quote from: Cementimental on March 28, 2021, 08:28:42 PM
Quote from: JLIAT on March 25, 2021, 01:20:40 PM
Malevitch's black AND white paintings.




"His Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Great Deaf Man of 1897 consists of 24 blank measures. It predates similarly silent but intellectually serious works by John Cage and Erwin Schulhoff by many years."



Quote from: JLIAT on March 23, 2021, 03:31:41 PM

He makes the point of the idea from there being a pre existing 'field' to be recorded to that of the recorder choosing and so effectively 'creating' the field. 

The chapter on field recordings is what seemed most interesting to me while looking through the book's contents, and I am tempted to get it just to read more about this point that you mention.  So is his position that the "field" of a field recording does not come into a full/explicit existence until after the recording has been made?