There is a youtube video out there that has had me laughing for years. It is “Brutal/Deathcore/Grindcore is NOT Music!” by PMRants (Phil Mason). I have come to find it presumptuous for anyone to claim something is “not music”, much less when that person’s taste in music is questionable, and again when their definition of music comes from an english language dictionary.

Unfortunately, every time I start laughing, I must quickly stop myself in the face of the horrifying revelation that in the history of this blog I have made posts as terrible or more than Phil’s video. The landmark example would certainly be my post on Machine Gun by  The Peter Brötzmann Octet — easily my worst article in a period that I would consider to be the nadir of my time as a music writer. That post was written about a year before Phil released his criticism on grindcore, and thankfully by the arrival of 2013 my philosophy on art and my goals in writing had adapted into a more tolerant pattern that has continued to this day.

Indeed, a most remarkable thing has happened recently: I am actually starting to enjoy noise, or at least noise-y music of the sort that Peter Brötzmann produced in Machine Gun, along with genres like techno, industrial, hardcore punk, and in many cases even grindcore. If I had to hypothesize on why that has happened, I would say that it is the result of listening to music conscientiously while simultaneously still inundating myself with popular (in the academic sense) music. In other words, listening mainly to music that follows popular convention and patterns — even if it is spanning genres from metal to hip-hop — from a critical perspective has brought me to a point where I am in total favor of listening to some music that rejects norms, even if only a little bit.

Those are the types of artists I’ll be sharing today: not necessarily “noise”, but just vaguely noise-like. A gateway both for myself and for others to eventually proceed onto the truly avant-garde.

Roly Porter

Shoutouts to Spotify Discover for this one. I heard 4101 in the car one day through that playlist, and I was blown away by how heavy it was. It’s a gravity well of sound — a true “high volume” song. From all the songs I have heard by Roly, he appears to have an orchestral “movie soundtrack” undertone that he augments with some brutal electronic sound. 4101 is my favorite off his album Third Law, but Departure Stage is another good track with a lot of the same positive qualities. For those who find Third Law a bit too extreme, he has what I’ll call a more “musical” album in Aftertime, from which I recommend Hessra.

Yves De Mey

I’m on the fence about Yves. I’ve heard some stuff I really liked, and I’ve heard some stuff I didn’t like as much; likely due to my newness to this techno/drone style. From the songs I enjoyed (such as Metrics), it seems like there is a kind of warmth behind the electronic madness. It is perhaps because there always seems to be a good amount of bass in his songs. When he has a clearcut beat (Metrics is a bad example, but you’ll hear some below), it is peculiarly organic: it is never just some 4-on-the-floor dance beat. Furthermore, it seems to me that he avoids some of the screeching high-pitched tones that I strongly disliked in the past when I listened to music like this. He has some more experimental tracks like the very cool Box Caisson. It stands out to me from the rest of his songs because it almost has a melody to it, or a shadow of a melody. Other songs like Particle Match strike me as comparatively methodical, but nonetheless you can hear what I described as “organic” in its beat patterns. All in all, Yves is an artist that has interested me for a while and I look forward to hearing more of this genre if he is anything like “the usual”.

Yellow Swans

You wouldn’t guess it listening to Foiled, but these guys are considered a noise rock group. Again, it blows my mind to say this (thinking back to where I came from), but their music is actually calming. Chill, even, with songs like Mass Mirage. They evoke the “warm blanket” mood that the droning sound of rain outside a window brings. While not quite as self-evident, it reminds me of the way Burial is described — like listening to music outside the club. Again, if any of you are finding this a hard thing to buy into, perhaps Sovereign is a more palatable example of what I’m describing.

I Am a Lake of Burning Orchids

By far the heaviest artist of the bunch. I have only heard one release by this artist, the 22 minute long EP entitled Summer In My Veins. Not a smooth listen, but certainly an interesting one. It starts with the rather explosive opening track bearing the same name as the EP itself, and begins mellowing out in tone if not in substance around track 4 (My First Kiss Was In The Rain). This relative mellowing proceeds through the rest of the album, and we come up with several tracks that actually resemble pop songs A House of Golden Light on the less obvious end of the spectrum, Garden of Light I on the more obvious end. It almost sounds like what passes for atmospheric black metal today.

I’m a little curious where PMRants would find himself on this type of music these days. It has been years since he has made a single video about music. I am sure he has come around. And just in time for me to make a post on grindcore, don’t you think?


One thought on “Approaching the sound barrier

  1. Pingback: Catholic reacts to black metal | Listen To Better Music

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