Monday, November 17, 2008

an "annihilating intimacy" of noise

This is from an interesting article on the meaning (or interpreted meaning) of noise in modern popular music by Torben Sangild - NOISE - THREE MUSICAL GESTURES : Expressionist, Introvert and Minimal Noise . It contains a quote about My Bloody Valentine, from a NME review of Loveless.

All of “Loveless” is suffused with an apocalyptic, pre-orgasmic glow, the sound of an annihilating intimacy. My Bloody Valentine music is a smelting, melding, crucible of love in which every borderline (inside/outside, you/me, lover/beloved) is abolished. Instead of the normal perspective of rock production (bass here, guitar there, voice there, with the listener mastering the field of hearing), My Bloody Valentine are here, there, everywhere. They permeate, irradiate, subsume and consume you. (Reynolds, 1991).

My Bloody Valentine, Sangild asserts, uses noise not as a Dionysian explosion of ecstacy, but as a gesture of boundary-blurring intimacy, a "de-centering of subjectivity". "De-centering of subjectivity". That seems a very vague term, certainly open to multiple interpretations - in which subjectivity ceases to be the subjective viewpoint of one person (myself) and rather merges with another's? or a de-privileging of my viewpoint into a more blurry, floaty view encapsulating many different views?

I'm not sure, but it's an interesting article.

I saw My Bloody Valentine a month or so ago, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The concert was, apparently, around 132 dB loud at least, louder than the loudest concerts on record. You could feel your hairs on your arms vibrating. You could feel the bass deep in your chest. It was like being inside a cave during a mining disaster. I think the most shocking thing was seeing a few imprudent (to say the least) concertgoers without ANY hearing protection, despite the fact that earplugs were passed out for free at the door. Nearly 20 minutes of immersion in a cavern of unending rumble and sheer noise. It was pretty amazing. I didn't really feel driven into an altered state or anything, as some said is the effect of the noise. It certainly didn't feel angry the way most noise is used in rock - it felt more like being in a big cavern or at the bottom of the sea, while a storm rages overhead. It felt intimate; though the noise certainly seems de-personalized, it didn't feel de-personalizing, the way some avant-garde music affects me. However, a lot of my memories on the show are colored by the anticipation of seeing Kevin Shields, and the joy of watching it with my friend Justin, who is definitely one of my favorite people. During the noise part, he would tilt his neck back, eyes closed, mouth agape. That's how shoegaze should be, I think.

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