Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Science of Noise part 2

This is an idea I`ve toyed with for more than a few years now: to measure noise based on a few fixed criteria. Namley, harshness, density, rawness, craftsmanship, spasticity, harmonicaness. (details below)

It`s something I meant to post to alt.noise a while back. I didn`t because I was chickenshit. I decided that the rather arbitrary notion of "fixed criteria" would collapse under the cumbersome tide of outraged criticism, and be consigned forever to rot in the bowels of a bottomless flamepit. So I copped out with an open survey-style question: "Describe noise in five to eight words".

For results of the bogus survey, go here:

the science of noise, part 1

The survey results, however, in more recent hindsight, support what I`ve always felt: that most of us listen to noise for the same reasons, and are usually listening for the same damn thing.
Noise is, before anything else, a word. A word implies a limit. If we can have a limit, we can have a fixed analytical system.

The following are the categories I think would serve noise best:

Harshess. The overall sound pressure and intensity. The degree to which the sound consistently assaults the ear. The literal, physical effect on the listener`s ability to hear, both in the immediate and the forseeable future. Hearing aids, anyone? Incapacitants score high in this area, MSBR not so high.

Density. The overall depth and complexity. The degree to which the abysmal depths of noise are both hinted at and permeated. The sense of being sucked into a bottomless chasm of unimaginable diversity and motion. Skin Crime scores it big, early Masonna barely registers.

Rawness. The logical extension of a savagely twisted no-fi obsession, and the grim, brutal, barebones honesty that goes with it. Mutilated meatgrinder grit. Mangled tapehead fidelity. Burned out saturated flatulence. Knurl and early Prurient take this particular taco.

Craftsmanship. The demonstrated technique and skill, time and effort, preparing and/or performing. The extent to which the seemingly effortless flow and fluidity fools the puny brain into perceiving a "musical" context. Compositional factors may also weigh in: editing, layering, mixing, composing. Kazumoto Endo and Sickness get top marks.

Spasticity. The vertiginous sense of displacement and disorientation. The extent to which the warped noisebrain is fucked with, and rendered senseless, dazed, drunken pulp. Fresh and spontaneous whiplash nervesnap. Synaptic gaps ad stupidum. Can`t put your finger on it? Can`t get your bearings? Ready to give up and call it "noise"? All right then. Gomikawa Fumio at ya.

Harmonicaness. The world of drone. The mostly uncontrollable interplay of undertones and overtones which gently, but firmly, convey the drowsy attention span deep into the slumbering heart of Never Never Land. CCCC and early Stimbox are definite frontrunners.

There`s a fair bit of overlap, but I`m hardly suggesting this to be an exact science. Call it another tool in the eternal quest to locate the shit you wanna hear.

Here are examples of superior noise product subjected to these criteria:

Incapacitants - No Progress (Alchemy)
Harshness 10
Density 7.5
Rawness 7
Craftsmanship 5.5
Spasticity 3
Harmonicaness 8

Masonna - shinsen na clitoris (Vanilla)
Harshness 9
Density 2
Rawness 7.5
Craftsmanship 6
Spasticity 9.5
Harmonicaness 3

Gasolineman - born in the high octane fuel (out)
Harshness 9
Density 4.5
Rawness 5
Craftsmanship 7.5
Spasticity 10
Harmonicaness 1

Metrocide / Analog Weapon (23 Productions)
Harshness Metrocide 9 / Analog Weapon 8
Density Metrocide 7 / Analog Weapon 6.5
Rawness Metrocide 5.5 / Analog Weapon 7.5
Crafstmanship Metrocide 8 / Analog Weapon 6
Spasticity Metrocide 6.5 / Analog Weapon 7.5
Harmonicaness Metrocide 7.5 / Analog Weapon 2.5

The Rita / Kevin Rivard - Shin Health (self released)
Harshness 7.5
Density 4.5
Rawness 10
Craftsmanship 6
Spasticity 8
Harmonicaness 4

Mathausen Orchestra - Bloodyminded (?)
Harshness 6.5
Density 5
Rawness 8.5
Craftsmanship 4.5
Spasticity 3
Harmonicaness 7.5

Yellow Cab - s/t (GROSS)
Harshness 9.5
Density 7
Rawness 6
Craftsmanship 6.5
Spasticity 8
Harmonicaness 6.5

Killer Bug - Steaming Gash (b/b)
Harshness 10
Density 7
Rawness 2.5
Craftsmanship 8.5
Spasticity 8.5
Harmonicaness 8.5

Note: I initially meant for this system to be used as a supplement to legitimate reviews, and NOT to replace reviews proper. In my vision: "The busy noiseperv glances at the scores... vaguely interested or curious (though more probably merely offended), the perv reads the spew to follow..."

Therefore, I do not recommend that anyone, save yours truly, actually consider trying to apply the critical system I`ve outlined. Harshness, Density, Rawness, Craftsmanship, Spasticity, Harmonicaness. These are the categories that serve my noise vision best. They are unlikely to fit other individual noise visions quite so snugly. If you think that people are not taking your reviews seriously enough, then feel free to develop your own arbitrary set of relevant criteria. It could very well save the reader his or her precious time. And that`s all that matters, really.

All flames welcome.

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Blogger Jon Silpayamanant said...

Hey Jason, I just edited the link so that it didn't push the sidebar down. It's also nice to let people know that you're pointing to "Part 1" (you just know that someone, who hasn't clicked the link, is going to ask that).

5:51 AM  
Blogger sure said...

thanx guys, happy to see people to write about noise. there are few people about it.

4:53 PM  
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11:56 PM  

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