a guide to the ruins: Noise
The Bay Area is a hotbed for musicians who experiment with tape collage, insect noise, amplified toothbrushes, industrial waste -- even the kitchen sink. Sounds vary widely, from all-consuming noise to near silence, with everything imaginable -- and unimaginable -- in between. Sometimes it sounds like a brooding film score or jazz in a blender. But it might also resemble several records skipping simultaneously, a bad wreck at the Indy 500 or what a bug in an electric motor would hear. Sound itself is of the essence, whether it's tape collages, tranquil tones or unrelenting, crushing cacophony.
Mason Jones: "Wakened by Silence" I moved to San Francisco in 1988 without knowing anyone, knowing nothing about the music scene here. It didn't take very long to start meeting people, though; at the first show I attended in the city, I met people involved in the experimental music scene. Immediately thereafter, I found myself in the middle of a healthy scene, which has definitely grown since then. Three years later, I'm extremely happy to be able to provide this document as an introduction to the San Francisco Bay area's experimental/industrial artists.
Big City Orchestra is one of the most prolific of the Bay Area's experimental noise purveyors. During the last 12 years, the group has released about 60 full-length works and appeared on more than 300 compilations. Although membership varies from project to project, the focal point of the group is dAS, the orchestra's conductor. "So much of the 'industrial' music is angst-y and nihilistic," says the affable dAS. "Sure, we all feel angst, we all feel sorrow, we all feel pain -- but we like to make sure the sense of humor's there as well."
G.X.JupitterLarsen: 10/6/1990 San Francisco. Ross is a mythological character. A mathematician who's peace of mind was once said to sound much like a calculator being rubbed against sandpaper. A reference to "a beauty resorting from the wearing down of numbers." So as a performance entitled "The Thinking Ross Does", two members of The Haters each rubbed a calculator against very abrasive sandpaper. A contact-mic had been mounted on each of the calculators. The sound of the rubbing was amplified. Staged for 25 minutes at a small gallery. The two of them, sitting at a table; rubbing away. Strongly audible.
SENSE/NET: I was very impressed with the large ambient chill room in the back! Good projections, and a smart toast bar (more about that later), but the SOUND! It seems they approached the owner of Auricular Records to gather together members of various local experimental/ambient industrial bands to provide the sonic environment. So, behind a twenty foot long array of tape machines, synths, samplers, electronic effects, and acoustic instruments were members of IAO Core, Big City Orchestre, Nux Vomica, and others - jamming on the machines together as SENSE/NET.
Alan Herrick: NUX VOMICA - AUGUR The very first Nux Vomica release is a walk through the factories and assembly lines of the mind. Relentless and piercing confusion surround the listener and lull them into what could most certainly be hell. NUX VOMICA - SPINDAL ALPHA This cassette project is an exploration into the waking dream state. Trance like sounds and environments along with frightening aural hallucinations. Comes in a limited edition handmade package of 250.
S. Glass: Steeplesnakes, "Lettuce Bondage Film Soundtrack," "20 Aerobic Dance Pants," "Breathing Exercises." This is not nature's way. Wholly designed interferences and interruption. Only effects of abolition of permission. Grinding, pounding; world without mercy. So, in general: An anesthetic of endless repetition. It is enabled by instruments promising precisely repeatable effects; variety is introduced by human interference in the capacities of the instrument. Performance introduces the troubling effect of the expirable moment, where the endless and the repetitive are mastered by the singular and the momentary.