How do I get into noise music?
November 19, 2008 9:36 AM   Subscribe

How do I get into noise music? I like early Sonic Youth, late Tarentel, am very well versed in grind and brutal hardcore, like Team Brick, don't like Oren Ambarchi. I prefer shrieking feedback to long drones, distorted guitars to electronic instruments, beats to no beats. I think I prefer the specific to the abstract. For example, I don't understand minimal techno.

What are some good noise artists and albums to start with?
posted by maryrosecook to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Yellow Swans - At All Ends (and pretty much anything on the Load label, such as Air Conditioning)
Burning Star Core - Challenger
The Dead C - Harsh 70's Reality
Hair Police - Constantly Terrified
John Wiese - Soft Punk
Prurient - Black Vase
Skullflower - Obsidian Shaking Codex
Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
posted by RGD at 10:02 AM on November 19, 2008

I assume you're talking about eventually getting into stuff like Merzbow, Masonna, Yellow Swans, right?

You could start with noise rock and go from there. Lightning Bot might be close to what you already like, and possibly AIDS Wolf.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:05 AM on November 19, 2008

Lightning Bolt
Sun 0))))

Anything on Southern Lord might tickle your noise bone. Some of those are very drone-y, but Boris, lately, has been oscillating between drooooooooone and Motorhead-ish, blow-your-brains-out rock.
posted by GilloD at 10:06 AM on November 19, 2008

This may be skewed toward the abstract & electronic, but...

IMO A Perfect Pain by Merzbow & Genesis P-Orridge and Puppy Gristle by Skinny Puppy & Gensis P-Orridge are EXCELLENT noise albums. Also would recommend Charlie's Family by Download, Information Overload Unit by SPK, any Merzbow... a lot of old-school industrial will encorporate elements we now term noise -- NON, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, etc.

You would probably enjoy Wolf Eyes.
posted by Ultra Laser at 10:07 AM on November 19, 2008

Chuck out US Maple from Chicago.
posted by sourwookie at 10:07 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Check, not "Chuck"
posted by sourwookie at 10:10 AM on November 19, 2008

posted by bdc34 at 10:14 AM on November 19, 2008

Fantômas (between 10 and 25 big band instruments going nuts)
Ground Zero (noise-in-melody, melody-in-noise, done with sax and drum)
Hrvatski (intense, mindmelt electronics)
International Anthems for Irrationnal Numbers (so insane it scares me to find myself listening to it)
Jake Mandell (Same label as Hrvatski, so very much less noisy -- even robotic-pretty at times)
La societe des timides a la parade des oiseaux (also insane, but poetic-insane so it's all good)
Lightning Bolt (king of Providence noise; a guitar, a drumkit, and a gimp mask with a contact mike, done fucking loud)
Melt Banana (crazy japs are trying to break my skull with guitars and da stupid)

Black Dice (somehow it combines a dense wall of noise with minimalism)
Supersilent (minimal non-techno)
Hubbub (also non-techno, even more minimal; fewer notes per minutes than you ever believed possible)
posted by gmarceau at 10:17 AM on November 19, 2008

Lamborghini Crystal / James Ferraro
Keiji Haino / Fushitsusha
Dead C. - DR503, Eusa Kills, Trapdoor Fucking Exit, the aforementioned Harsh 70s Reality
Skullflower - Xaman
Musica Transonic - all PSF CDs
posted by porn in the woods at 10:28 AM on November 19, 2008

Royal Trux!

Accelerator, Veterans of Disorder & Pound For Pound are all excellent, though their early work is a bit more noise-oriented.
posted by seldomfun at 11:05 AM on November 19, 2008

The Canon
posted by rhizome at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2008

all great recommendations but have to really say Sun City Girls is the way to go.
posted by jeffe at 11:08 AM on November 19, 2008

You might dig the Fire Show, particularly their final release, Saint the Fire Show. They did a sort of amalgam of art-punk, noise, and blues.
posted by scody at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2008

You haven't really defined what you mean by noise music. Personally, I don't define it as noise rock, or anything with a conventional structure that just happens to be harsh sounding or badass in some way, even though I like many of the artists mentioned so far.

I would say the classic modern reference point for "noise music" is Merzbow, if only for the reputation and fame, and if you like beats, you could do worse than get the Merzbeat album on Important Records, because it's one of the few Merzbow records I know of with some structured rhythms on it. (Though being as there are hundreds of Merzbow releases and I only know about 20 of them tops, I'm not really qualified to say. Merzbeat is definitely one of the better known releases, though.) So, it is kind of an easy way in to listening to a definitive noise artist if you like beats.
posted by galaksit at 11:57 AM on November 19, 2008

try The Goslings


posted by geos at 12:02 PM on November 19, 2008

posted by hot soup girl at 12:49 PM on November 19, 2008

I don't know anything about the latest round of noise stuff, but since you like Sonic Youth, I'll second Polvo. Not much shrieking feedback, but plenty of distorted guitars, plus amazing rhythms.

And if you want noise-rock, try Big Black's Songs About Fucking.
posted by equalpants at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2008

Ladyscraper is, technically, breakcore (abrasive IDM i.e. Venetian Snares, Otto von Schirach, Shitmat, Droon) but despite his electronica definition he definately slants toward industrial noise; there's a whole lotta guitars and screaming for a strict IDM artist. His albums and songs tend toward the crass and violent (his name is an abortion reference, for god's sake), and his music may make small children cry.

Best of all, he's got a number of free internet-only releases; you can d/l his album The Death of Mary Poppins right here. My favorite cut is Hooke.

Millionth-ing Wolf Eyes. They're kinda slow building, so skip to the middle of a song before you go "goddamn, this is all drone!" As my favorite DJ says, "I play Wolf Eyes at a party when I want people to leave."

I would never define it strictly as "noise," but John Zorn's Naked City is pretty much the most badass jazz music you are ever going to find around. Shrieking and guitar-fuckery aplenty.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2008

Anything by Nic Endo !
posted by sanrio at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2008

blowupnihilist - Vancouver, WA
posted by anoirmarie at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2008

Because you mentioned that you don't understand minimal techno, it makes me think maybe your listening is focused mainly on short bits of music. The reason anyone is really into minimal techno is not because of the immediate sound set, but the veeeery slow changes over time, just like minimalism in western art music. Hence the name. Hurf durf. :)

A lot of noise music works in the same way, I think. Not going to suggest anything else (folks up there got you SO covered!), but if you feel like you don't understand things you'd like to appreciate (if not really love), try listening for temporally stretched changes and larger forms.
posted by nosila at 6:41 PM on November 19, 2008

I don't really agree with all the bands named on Wikipedia there..

The old Amphetamine Reptile label (doesn't really exist any more.. ) if you can find this stuff.. COWS.. (they completely rule).. Hammerhead.

Pissed Jeans
the Jesus Lizard!
White Mice

Sonic Youth esp older.. Bad Moon Rising, EVOL

Flipper still rules OK
posted by citron at 12:00 AM on November 20, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone. I am really excited about going through everything that has been mentioned. First on my list are: Yellow Swans, Wolf Eyes, Masonna, US Maple, Fantômas, Ground Zero, Hrvatski, International Anthems for Irrationnal Numbers, Sun City Girls, Ladyscraper.

It might be helpful for me to give some feedback on what I'd already heard before I asked the question:

Already like: Lightning Bolt, Melt Banana, Black Dice, Polvo.
Have tried before and dislike: Boris, Sunn 0)))), Mogwai, Tortoise, Big Black, Melvins, Boredoms.

@nosila That is really interesting what you say about minimal techno. I do actually really like long compositions, but I think I've never been susceptible to the trance-like-state that minimal techno and minimal electronica seems to evoke.
posted by maryrosecook at 6:32 AM on November 20, 2008


You'll do much better over at I Love Music. All due deference here, "noise" is super, super broad and the folks here just aren't going to be able to delve in like they can over there.
posted by klangklangston at 4:02 PM on November 20, 2008

Susan Lawly and Sub Rosa are good labels to check out. Susan Lawly has an "Extreme Music From ____" series of compilations that sound like they'd be up your alley.

And SPK is AMAZING. SPK! SPK! I don't even LIKE noise that much (well, at least compared to by noise-obsessed boyfriend and most of my old college pals), but when I heard Information Overload Unit I was like HOLY CRAP!

I'm going in a slightly different direction here, but you mentioned early Sonic Youth...Glenn Branca's early No Wave band Theoretical Girls only came out with one album, but it's great. And forgive me if this is too off-topic and too well-known, but have you heard the Contortions yet?

And I second a lot of the obvious and seemingly spot-on choices listed above: Earth2, Wolf Eyes, Merzbow, Melt Banana, Black Dice, Boris, US Maple, Hrvatski. But oops, on preview I'm seeing you know and like or dislike a lot of these already...
posted by ifjuly at 6:41 AM on November 30, 2008

No one's mentioned this but really the best way to start appreciating noise music is to go to shows. You're lucky that in London there's a lot of such about. The magazine The Wire is a great resource. Here's their news page which includes gig listings.


P.S. If you can ever see Hafler Trio live, go for it.
posted by Kattullus at 7:44 AM on November 30, 2008

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