Monday, September 17, 2007

Metal Machine Musings

This here is a kind of loveable interview with the famously prickly Lou Reed who seems to be getting kinda sweet in his dotage, har har (as if someone as intrinsically brainy and with-it as Lou could ever have a "dotage"). Nevertheless, its interesting to hear his perspective -- what sounds like maybe its his honest perspective, too, minus any myth or bullshit -- on "Metal Machine Music," an album I admire the hell out of but, like probably the rest of you, have never made it all the way through.

Scratch that -- I should say most of you. I have one friend who adores MMM, and listens to it constantly. To him I say: power to the people, brother, I feel that way about a lot of supposedly "unlistenable" music (I play Steven Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians" weekly), but for some reason the cascades of feedback on MMM have never sat right with me. Maybe ten years from now -- music like that has a way of sneaking up on me. I'm still waiting for those last few John Zorn things to sit with me (the ones where Mike Patton goes GHRHGHRMFJERKHWERLKSDJLKJDF:KJELKJKLSDFJKJDHF really loud over some pretty awesome thrash-jazz-metal-crunge-funk-fuck).

Supposedly, if you listen close, you can here vaguaries and subtleties and light and dark and chiaroscuro and such in MMM -- to me its always just sounded like one loud SKRONK, but I'm willing to very much admit that I'm wrong. Perhaps this live performance that's just out is a way for me to rediscover it. Dunno. I'm willing to stand behind the bleak, Grand Guignol-ish-ness of "Berlin," or even the sweet pop of "Coney Island Baby" but in much the same way the noise disc on Neil Young's "Arc/Weld" failed to sit with me, to quote Juno, to me, "It's just noise, man."

That said: Sorry, Juno. I finally was in the right place to enjoy "Daydream Nation," 20 years after the rest of the universe acknowledged its awesomeness. Let's just say its the perfect example of me playing against type.


Dirty Dan Sin said...

yeah. i felt sort of good and sort of incredibly ridiculous purchasing the upgraded remaster of mmm a few years back. it's just one of those things.

better to own it than sit around forever thinking about owning it. but i can't say that it's grabbed me yet....after what, fifteen years of trying?

sazired said...

Did you get a chance to see "Lou Red:Berlin" while in Toronto? I missed it and am wondering if anyone I even remotely know in real life or on the Interw3bs has an opinion on it other than the mass media types.

I actually have one of the original 1988-release Daydream Nation albums that went out of print. I smiled and whispered "blasphemy" when J said it was sucky noise, or whatever the exact line was.

Jon Busey-Hunt said...

I didn't see the movie -- but hell, it's Lou Reed performing "Berlin," it strikes me that you could shoot that on the worst-quality VHS through a condenser mic and it would still have that "Lou-Reed-Playing-Berlin" quality that would make it rock.

(Heh -- and of course, being as I'm basically Mark, that's Diablo's final word to me about my entire music library. ITS JUST NOISE, JAHHHHHHN! Or anyway, that's my theory. (My nicer theory is that her final words to Bleeker are also directed to me!))

joslyn said...

don't hold your breath for crackin' the code to noise noise like zorn/patton or merzbow.. it's purely visceral, like a sonic ear massage. or a brain cleansing - i find total chaos leeches out mental toxins, or something like that. but if you look for structure, it'll be frustrating.

i've seen zorn & patton each in several projects and wish patton would just stick to singing/screaming in a rock setting - he has a great voice but his attempts at avant-garde/improv are.. failed attempts. total crap. whereas fantomas is awesome.

i wouldn't group sonic youth in with the above as noise, though, they do have songs. it's like noise pop.

also, re: your finally liking daydream nation - collectively, our ears 'shift' and what sounds like noise now seems more tame 20yrs from now. i'm not sure why that is. but ornette coleman's & cecil taylor's first 50s recordings were heard as sonic assaults. now you listen to those early albums and they're just nice songs (their later stuff is still totally wild, though).