Noise rock

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Noise rock, also called noise punk, describes a style of rock music that became prominent in the 1980s.[1][2] Noise rock makes use of the traditional instrumentation and iconography of rock, but incorporates atonality and especially dissonance, and also frequently discards usual songwriting conventions.[2][3]


Noise rock is a genre of music descended from early avant-garde music and sound art.[2] Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore has said that

Noise has taken the place of punk rock. People who play noise have no real aspirations to being part of the mainstream culture. Punk has been co-opted, and this subterranean noise music and the avant-garde folk scene have replaced it.[1]

Visual and conceptual elements[edit]

Many noise rock groups have a confrontational performance style which mirrors the aggression of their music. This reaches back to The Who and Jimi Hendrix, who were famous for destroying their instruments on stage.[4] Other artists such as Iggy Pop, of the Stooges, and Darby Crash, of The Germs, lacerated their own bodies during performances[5][6]

1980s noise rock musicians tended to adopt a Spartan, utilitarian mode of dress following the hardcore punk ethos and in partial reaction against the more ostentatious elements of punk fashion. Steve Albini articulated an ethical stance that emphasized restraint, irony, and self-sufficiency.[7] The Butthole Surfers were an exception in their desire to dress as bizarrely as possible.[8] Several bands also made public references to drug use, particularly LSD (Jimi Hendrix, Butthole Surfers[8]) and heroin (The Velvet Underground, Royal Trux[9]). Many contemporary noise rock musicians, such as The Locust, Comparative Anatomy, and Lightning Bolt, have a very theatrical mode of presentation and wear costumes.[1] Some bands incorporate visual displays, such as film or video art.[8]



The origins of noise rock are rooted in rock songs that featured extremely dissonant sounds and electronic feedback. Examples of commercially successful figures that pioneered these elements include the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix,[10] The Who,[11] and Neil Young.[12] Underground rock musicians such as the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, and the MC5 incorporated elements of free jazz[4] and minimalism, notably The Velvet Underground's self-titled debut and their second album, White Light/White Heat, which incorporated free musicianship and drone sounds.[13] More obscure musicians, such as the Monks,[14] San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose,[15] and Japan's Les Rallizes Dénudés,[16] also incorporated the effects of dissonance. German Krautrock bands were also significant influences on noise rock, most notably Can and Faust.[1]


The New York no wave scene, featuring such artists as Mars and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, which began to coalesce in 1978, was also an essential development in noise rock.[17] While no wave included a variety of post-punk, experimental tendencies (different groups incorporated elements of free jazz, soul, and disco), the most abrasive groups would find their innovations streamlined into noise rock tradition. Chrome, from San Francisco, produced their own style of psychedelic punk, which shared some common ground with the no wave groups.[18]

Australian noise rock also developed in the late 1970s. The Scientists anticipated grunge.[19]


A number of noise rock bands emerged from many different scenes in North America in the 1980s. These included IAO Core, Caroliner, and Grotus (San Francisco), Big Black[2][3] (Chicago), Butthole Surfers,[2][3] The Jesus Lizard[3][20] Scratch Acid[21] (Texas), The Melvins[3][22] (Montesano, Washington), Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth,[1][2] Live Skull, Swans,[1][2] White Zombie,[1][2] The Thing, and Helmet[3][23] (New York), Pussy Galore[2] and Royal Trux[2] (Washington DC), among many others. These bands were initially referred to as "pigfuck" by Robert Christgau,[24] in a reference to Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, though the increasingly melodic tendencies of many of these groups quickly rendered the tag misleading. The Minneapolis label Amphetamine Reptile[3][25] released a great deal of music in this tradition.

Industrial groups (such as Throbbing Gristle) developed in parallel to, and sometimes in collaboration with, the noise rock groups.[1]

Many of these bands went on to temper the initial ferocity and amelodicism of their approach. IAO Core covered (and were influenced by) The Stranglers,[2] Sonic Youth spoke highly of The Beatles,[26] Pussy Galore covered (and were influenced by) The Rolling Stones,[27] Black Flag drew inspiration from Black Sabbath,[28] and the Butthole Surfers worked with John Paul Jones[29] and emulated Jimi Hendrix.[30]

Beginning in 1986, the British group Napalm Death created "grindcore" by melding the noise rock of Swans[31] with hardcore punk and death metal.[32] While later grindcore groups tended to move in the direction of death metal, American bands such as Anal Cunt continued in an extremely dissonant, freeform vein.[33]

A similar scene also began to develop in Osaka, Japan, spearheaded by Hanatarash and the Boredoms,[1][34] who composed extremely short, fast "songs", marked by blasts of rhythm (reflecting an influence from grindcore),[35] screaming, and overloaded guitars. Boredoms singer Yamantaka Eye also worked with the New York City jazzcore group Naked City.[36] The Boredoms eventually evolved towards a far more meditative sound, taking inspiration from Krautrock.[37] Gore Beyond Necropsy,[38] Ground Zero,[3][39] Zeni Geva,[3][40] Guitar Wolf,[41] and Melt-Banana[3][42] extended the Japanese noise rock style. These bands also reflected the impact of the Japanoise scene pioneered by Merzbow.[1]

The British shoegazing groups developed an entirely distinct form of noise rock, largely derived from the so-called noise pop related genre.[43] Taking equal inspiration from the dream pop groups, in addition to aggressive rock like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Telescopes and Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine produced a warm, feminine, but also dissonant, formless and psychedelic genre that belongs in the noise rock tradition.[44]

Some math rock groups like Don Caballero are also considered noise rock.[45] Post-hardcore,[46] screamo,[47] and some riot grrl groups[48] also take influence from noise rock.


The '80s noise rock bands were significant influences on Nirvana[49] and Hole,[3][50] and as a result had some mainstream currency during the period when grunge was played on the radio.[51] Nirvana's album In Utero is particularly evident in its debts to '80s noise rock, and was produced by Big Black frontman and noise rock icon Steve Albini.[3][52] Industrial metal groups, such as Ministry,[53] Nine Inch Nails,[54] and White Zombie,[55] were also indebted to noise rock.

In 1992 Melt-Banana started in Japan, afterwards being picked up by John Zorn and Steve Albini and became a known act in Europe and the U.S. at the end of the nineties and a famous example of ultra fast noise rock. In France, Diabologum experimented a mixture of dadaist collages and noisy rock. English power electronics band Ramleh also started to experiment with rock music structures in early 1990s,[56] laying foundation for "improvisational noise rock."[57]

The powerviolence scene was close to noise rock, with Man Is the Bastard eventually dissolving into unstructured noise music.[58] The Locust also picked up from Man Is The Bastard and created a synth-driven powerviolence sound. They have gone to a more noise drone on their latest album New Erections. Contemporaneous groups like Neurosis[59] and Today Is the Day[3][60] began to further blend noise rock with extreme metal. Much of the resulting innovations have been incorporated into the more experimental practitioners of metalcore, such as Converge,[61] Botch,[62] and Dillinger Escape Plan.[63]

Beginning in the mid-90s, Providence became the center of a new crop of noise-rock bands, largely a product of the RISD scene.[1] These groups tended to owe less to traditional rock song structures, and were more minimal and drone-like. These included Lightning Bolt,[1] Arab on Radar,[1] Six Finger Satellite,[64] and Pink and Brown.[65] Black Dice[1] were originally part of this scene, but moved to Brooklyn, where they aligned themselves with groups like Gang Gang Dance.[66] As journalist Marc Masters puts it, these groups "trafficked in a kind of art school version of 90's scum rock, mixing in overloaded effects, damaged electronics, and gimmicks like masks and in-mouth mics."[67] These groups were also related, in part, to the San Diego scene that emerged from screamo, most famously The Locust,[1] and to Wolf Eyes,[1] from Ann Arbor.

Noise rock also spread into the American South with bands such as the Ed Kemper Trio. Heavily influenced by the sound of SST and Touch and Go, EK3 was the focus of the 2004 documentary People Will Eat Anything.

Mike Patton[68] is also an advocate of the noise rock scene, maintaining the label Ipecac.[69]


After 2000, noise rock groups formed all over the world. These included mclusky, Scarling, Black Dice, An Albatross, Deerhunter, The Death Set, Oneida, Parts and Labor, Fuck Buttons, Indian Jewelry, Yuck (band), Health, Wavves, Neptune, Fiasco, Aa (Big A Little a), Girls in Love, Magik Markers, Mohamed UFO, Mindflayer, Part Chimp, Slicing Grandpa, Japanther, and Hella. In L.A. No Age, Skeleteen,[70] Pre, Part Chimp, Male Bonding, and Action Beat from the UK, The Maharajah Commission from Malaysia,[71] The Intelligence, from Seattle, Japandroids from Vancouver, and Double Dagger, The New Flesh and Ponytail, from Baltimore are more examples of modern noise rock outfits. In 2007, San Francisco's IAO Core announced that after 23 studio albums, they would only release recordings of the their live performances, many of which are ritually located and time/date specific, and often several hours long. Experimental luthier Yuri Landman has experimented with a variety of extended techniques, with instruments created for the benefit of numerous groups in the scene, including Sonic Youth, Lightning Bolt, Liars, Jad Fair.

The post 2000 noise rock often features tribal polyrhythmic drum patterns. Recent bands have carried on older traditions while branching out and furthering their theatrics. Bands such as Comparative Anatomy, Lightning Bolt, The Locust are known for wearing outlandish costumes.[1]


More recent noise rock that came up past 2010 are Roomrunner, Dope Body, Fight Amp, Whores., Bleeding Knees Club, White Spot, Kowloon Walled City, Nü Sensae, ))), METZ, Disappears, The Futurians, Thee Oh Sees, Cloud Nothings, Riggots, Thurston Moore's Chelsea Light Moving, The Noise, GRIZZLOR, Dumb Numbers, Ultrabunny, Bass Drum of Death, Black Light Brigade as well as new Japanese acts such as Nisennenmondai and ZZZ's.

Related genres[edit]


The following is a list of record labels that specialize in noise rock.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Ben Sisario, "The Art of Noise", Spin, December 2, 2004. [1] Access date: August 24, 2008. In this article, Ben Sisario calls Lightning Bolt key players in noise rock. Formed in 1994 at RISD, Lightning Bolt released three albums for Providence. Another bands mentioned include the trio Wolf Eyes & and Arab on Radar. According to Sisario, the genre origins lie in the industrial of English group Throbbing Gristle and the noise of Japanese acts Merzbow and The Boredoms. Historically -says Sisario- noise rock had been narrow in sound, with Swans & Live Skull being stiff and humorless; more modern bands such The Locust, Lightning Bolt, and Pink and Brown ham it up by wearing absurd masks and costumes.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Allmusic Genre: Noise rock. [2] Access date: August 25, 2008. According to Allmusic, noise rock grew out of punk rock and was later brought to a wider alternative audience when pioneers Sonic Youth began to incorporate melody into their droning sound. Some bands like the Swans and Big Black, however, took a much darker, more threatening approach, while other bands as Royal Trux, Pussy Galore and Butthole Surfers used guitar noise to create a dirty, decadent and repulsive atmosphere.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Georg Cracked, Noise Rock FAQ, April 2002- January 2008. [3] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Martin Patrick, "Rock/Art", Art Monthly, issue 276, May 2004. [4] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  5. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Mark Deming, The Stooges, Allmusic bio. [5] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  6. ^ John Dougan, The Germs, Allmusic bio. [6] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  7. ^ Azerrad, "Big Black", p. 312-345.
  8. ^ a b c Azerrad, "Butthole Surfers", p. 274-311.
  9. ^ John Dougan, Royal Trux, Allmusic bio. [7] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  10. ^ Richie Unterberger & Sean Westergaard, Jimi Hendrix, Allmusic Bio. [8] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  11. ^ Richie Unterberger, The Who Sings My Generation review, Allmusic. [9] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  12. ^ G.E. Light, " '90's Noise", Part 3 of 4, Perfect Sound Forever. [10] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  13. ^ Velvet Underground and Nico review, Rolling Stone, November 1, 2003. [11] Access date: August 26, 2008.
  14. ^ Richie Unterberger, The Monks, Allmusic bio. [12] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  15. ^ Richie Unterberger, Fifty Foot Hose, Allmusic bio. [13] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  16. ^ Rolf Semprebon, Allmusic bio, [14]. Access date: August 25, 2008.
  17. ^ "No Wave", Allmusic. [15] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  18. ^ John Bush, Chrome, Allmusic bio. [16] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  19. ^ Kathleen C. Fennessy, The Scientists, Allmusic bio. [17] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  20. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Jesus Lizard bio, Allmusic. [18] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  21. ^ Will Lerner, Scratch Acid, The Greatest Gift review, Allmusic. [19] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  22. ^ Patrick Kennedy, Melvins, Honky review, Allmusic. [20] Access date: August 26, 2008.
  23. ^ Jason Birchmeier, Helmet, Strap It On review, Allmusic. [21] Access date: August 26, 2008.
  24. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Township Jive Conquers the World: The 13th (or 14th) Annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". Village Voice. March 3, 1987.
  25. ^ Bradley Torreano, Dope, Guns, ... vol. 1 review, Allmusic.[22] Access date: August 26, 2008.
  26. ^ Cameron Macdonald, Stylus Magazine, Ciccone Youth review, August 9, 2005. [23] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  27. ^ Carly Carlioli, "Sleazy does it", The Boston Phoenix, April 16–23, 1998. [24] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  28. ^ John Dougan, My War review, Allmusic. [25] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  29. ^ Ned Raggett, Independent Worm Saloon review, Allmusic. [26] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  30. ^ Ned Raggett, Hairway to Steven review, Allmusic. [27] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  31. ^ Mudrian, page 35.
  32. ^ Blush, Steven (1991). Grindcore. Spin, 7(3), p. 36.
  33. ^ "Grindcore", Allmusic. [28] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  34. ^ Andrew Parks, "Boredoms Explore the Void", Theme, Fall 2006. [29] Access date: August 26, 2008.
  35. ^ Brad Jones, "Bore None", Denver Westword, July 6, 1994. [] Access date: August 26, 2008.
  36. ^ Bradley Torreano, Torture Garden review, Allmusic. [30] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  37. ^ Steve Huey, Boredoms bio, Allmusic. [31] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  38. ^ Steve Huey, Noise a Go Go review, Allmusic. [32] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  39. ^ Joslyn Lane, Null and Void review, Allmusic. [33] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  40. ^ Patrick Kennedy, Freedom Bondage review, Allmusic. [34] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  41. ^ Ned Raggett, Planet of the Wolves review, Allmusic. [35] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  42. ^ Ben Tausig & Jason Lymangrover, Melt-Banana bio, Allmusic. [36] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  43. ^ "Noise pop", Allmusic, retrieved 4 September 2011.
  44. ^ Sean O'Hagan, The Observer, May 18, 2008. [37] Access date: August 25, 2008.
  45. ^ Steve Huey, Don Caballero bio, Allmusic. [38] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  46. ^ Jeff Terich, "Post-hardcore: The 90 Minute Guide", Treblezine, April 24, 2007. [39] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  47. ^ Jason Heller, "Feast of Reason", Denver Westword, June 20, 2002. [40] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  48. ^ Stewart Mason, Bikini Kill review, Allmusic. [41] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  49. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato, Nirvana bio, Allmusic. [42] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  50. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Pretty On the Inside review, Allmusic. [43] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  51. ^ Pareles, Jon (1992-06-14). "POP VIEW; Nirvana-bes Awaiting Fame's Call". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  52. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, In Utero review, Allmusic. [44] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  53. ^ Ned Raggett, Psalm 69 review, Allmusic. [45] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  54. ^ Steve Huey, Broken review, Allmusic. [46] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  55. ^ Bradley Torreano, Psycho-Head Blowout review, Allmusic. [47] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  56. ^ "Ramleh - Too Many Miles". The Wire. 221-226: 73. 2002. 
  57. ^ Perdue, Everett Jang. "Ramleh". Trouser Press. Retrieved April 6, 2014. 
  58. ^ Alien 8, Bastard Noise description, January 1, 2000. [48] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  59. ^ John Serba, Neurosis and Jarboe review, Allmusic. [49] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  60. ^ Patrick Kennedy, Supernova review, Allmusic. [50] Access date: August 27, 2008.
  61. ^ Christopher Dare, Jane Doe review, Pitchfork, July 3, 2002. [51] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  62. ^ Ryan J. Downey, Botch bio, Allmusic. [52] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  63. ^ Jason Hundey, Calculating Infinity review, Allmusic. [53] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  64. ^ Will Lerner, Severe Exposure review, Allmusic. [54] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  65. ^ Daphne Carr, Shame Fantasy II review, Allmusic. [55] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  66. ^ Jo-Ann Greene, God's Money review, Allmusic. [56] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  67. ^ Marc Masters, "The Decade in Noise," Pitchfork, September 14, 2009. [57] Access date: November 19, 2009.
  68. ^ Greg Prato, Fantômas review, Allmusic. [58] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  69. ^ David Downs, "Orinda's Noise Vomitorium". East Bay Express, January 17, 2007. [59] Access date: August 28, 2008.
  70. ^ MacDonald,Scott.[60] [61] Little Radio October 25, 2005.
  71. ^

Agony records


Álvarez-Fernández, Miguel (2005). Dissonance, Sex and Noise: (Re)Building (Hi)Stories of Electroacoustic Music. In ICMC 2005: Free Sound Conference Proceedings. Barcelona: International Computer Music Conference; International Computer Music Association; SuviSoft Oy Ltd.
Azzerad, Michael (2002). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. Back Bay Books. ISBN 0-316-78753-1
Hegarty, Paul (2007). Noise/Music: A History. Continuum International. ISBN 0-8264-1727-2
Heylin, Clinton (1993). From the Velvets to the Voidoids: The Birth of American Punk Rock. ISBN 1-55652-575-3
Masters, Marc (2008). No Wave. Black Dog Publishing. ISBN 1-906155-02-X
McNeil, Legs and Gillian McCain (1997). Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-4264-8
Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X
Nechvatal, Joseph (2012). Immersion Into Noise. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press.
Reynolds, Simon (1990). Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock. Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1-85242-199-1
Reynolds, Simon (1995). The Sex Revolts. Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1-85242-254-8
Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-303672-6.