Thursday, 6 September 2012

And your last thought is that you have become a noise
A thin, nameless noise among all the others
Howling in the empty dark room

Ulver, Nowhere/Catastrophe

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Open Window

I can only sit and read now with the window open. I have tried to keep it closed, to shut off the world and make as silent as possible my own anechoic chamber. To quiet the outside as much as possible so that the words I read resonate with an audible sonority. Like the library of Alexandria, before spacing was introduced to texts, before, that is, the medieval monks introduced dots and dashes to make their silent reading easier, I want my reading to sound out. But it's no use, I need the window open. The silence is too much, it awakens a disturbance in me that causes my thoughts to drift. I have tried to dampen it with music but more often than not, it fails. I have decided music and work is only for the evening, when the day looks to close and I read for the sake of feeling better about not having worked during that day. But in the day, as it breaks,  I cannot work with music. Lyrical music in particular forces my ideas onto paths I did not choose. So I choose ambient music, Biosphere and Lustmord in particular. But I have heard these records so much now, they are in danger of becoming the soundtrack of my work day, which is to say, in danger of becoming work itself. So I open the window and outside the day murmurs. The industrial rail line rumbles twice a day. A drone of traffic from the coast road reaches my window just enough to be heard but deadened enough to be indiscriminate in the way the ocean might be said to rumble incessantly. Workers fill up a skip in the back alley, throwing things in sporadically and keeping my nerves on edge. If I wake up early enough though, I can strip all of this away and it's just me and the days murmur, the opening of sound to more sound. As I tire the sounds get louder and the louder they get the more tired I become. So I must try and wake earlier each day, to claim the day before noise claims me.

Friday, 8 June 2012


As the night gets darker and the wine bottle empties, more and more music is shared, heard and discussed. Coltrane's 'Giant Steps' is played, Oxbow's 'Evil Heat' and OM's 'God is Good'. At one moment she asks 'Is this noise music?' followed by 'show me some real noise music, the music you are writing about.' I walk into the next room where my music sits, organised and catalogued by genre and style. I go to my section I think of as the 'avant-garde' and scan for what I feel to be the most extreme Merzbow recording, the closest thing I own that I can play for her and comfortably say 'this is noise music'. I make an unconvinced choice and return with my answer.

Friday, 18 May 2012


'Listen, the reality is that any job that would have YOU is no job you'd really want to have.'
- Eugene S Robinson

Monday, 7 May 2012


I am not convinced that failure is an essential attribute of noise. If noise oscillates between itself (apparent non-meaning) and music (meaning) it does so through subjectivity, making the idea of failure fundamentally unessential. Noise can only be said to fail if we stay with noise as the taboo, the unwanted, Bataillean excess, interruption, disturbance and nausea. Noise would be said to fail as it is curtailed, brought into meaning, unable to disrupt absolutely the economy of limits it works so ardently against. Certainly the excess of noise only exceeds against the limit it sets itself against and by that, it is forever in its debt. But how is the person familiar with noise, the fan of Merzbow who has listened since '79, who no longer hears taboo and unwanted sound, how is this person to think of noise? Yes, noise fails if its original unwantedness suddenly becomes wanted, noise would be said fail to stay noise as it becomes something other, something palatable, something non-threatening. But noise has been within meaning and appropriated as music for a long time now, and the idea of an outside economy of noise as taboo seems outdated. Noise is and has been for some time, wanted by many and where want names not a sadomasochistic relation but pleasure in a linear sense. So if noise no longer fails, does transgression die with it? Not if we push the language of noise to a language of slippage that risks falling into silence. Transgression would then be embedded so deeply within the limit that it would fundamentally constitute it. Noise would not then figure as a positive statement of a negative attribute, failing being the very success of its transgressive insistence to disrupt the economy of music. Instead, noise would name the fundamental lack, gap, distance and absolute alterity as it figures in language and reception. Noise would name the difference and instability of conceptuality and music as an always already ruptured, in a way that the il y a names a distance within Blanchotian language. And just as Kafka would be said to be vigilant over this distance, Merzbow would likewise be said to be a vigilant artist instead of an artist of failure.