by Joseph Hess
Deliberately shrill and mostly dense, "noise" has become a blanket term for bands that explore and experiment around the beaten path. The genre, like others, isn't without its share of hangups, but that's why we're here. Every month, we supply a short list of sure bets in St. Louis, ranging from needlessly complex to minimalist drone. Connect the weird to your ears.
This month, our city will host a few noise groups who hold a sort-of "legendary" status in their own respective circles. Whether you're a seasoned vet of swampy sound or just starting to dip your toes in, each show has a lot to offer. Strangely enough, many of April's best events happen early on.
April 4 is packed with many choices, but the adventurous fan should be able to fit both our recommended gigs in before midnight. The Microwaves will play an unsuspecting coffee shop on the eve of Record Store Day later this month -- a must see for anyone who likes, or claims to like, noise rock. As always, a few shows will slip through the cracks or events will get announced on short notice, so feel free to fill in the blanks in the comments section below.
Wolf Eyes is the Led Zeppelin of noise. Or maybe Black Sabbath. Definitely not the Beatles. The group carries a long-winded mythos from its nearly twenty years of seedy, dangerous performances. While not exactly old, the band as a whole is certainly ripe, as its approach has only evolved over time. With the eclectic electronics of Raglani and the sharp and pointy punk rock of Self Help, the local line-up presents a diversity outside the status quo of a noise show.
This performance is part of the Artist Reception for Kaja Renka's Infirmary of the Subconscious and will start at 10 p.m. to avoid conflicting with other shows happening earlier in the night. Mazurek and Gray are both experimental legends in their own right, and this performance should be short and sweet, but definitely worth your time.
The video above shows Mazurek performing with Jeff Parker of Chicago post-rock band Tortoise. While it's not an accurate depiction of the sounds Mazurek will make alongside Gray, expect to see the same realm of experimental music.
Listen to Oneohtrix Point Never's latest album R Plus Seven to hear the wheel of synth-couture make a complete 360. Daniel Lopatin, the brains behind the operation, stacked his album full of tones that were the cutting edge of sound-sculpting in 1984, when Yamaha's DX7 synth launched a thousand glossy, plastic-y string patches, saxophones squawks and vocal coos. Lopatin arranges these sounds in two directions on his album: frenetic, serpentine arpeggios that ping and pong all over the landscape, and patient, warm meditations that show the rich texture of these long-forgotten sounds. St. Louis' own master sound manipulator Eric Hall will open the show with a mix of sampled sounds and mangled beats. -- By Christian Schaeffer
Also on April 4: The New Music Circle presents Claire Chase and ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) over at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Because the event starts at 7:30 and is projected to end by 9:30, fans can catch this gig or the Oneohtrix Point Never show and still have time to see Mazurek/Gray duo over at the Tavern of Fine Arts. Drive safe.
The Microwaves tear standard rock structure apart and piece it back together with electronic glue. Samples are triggered via footswitch and the crowd is none the wiser while a wall of noise barrels through, driven by sharp percussion. With local openers What We Won't See and Yowie, showgoers are treated to an intro of experimental music from two different angles. While Yowie sounds like desperate guitars gnawing at a mountain of expert percussion, What We Won't See feels much more raw with its electronic beats and bass locked to standard rhythms.
Think I left something out? Piss off! No, actually, you're probably right. I usually cap this column at three or four shows. Share what you know in the comments below. For the future, drop me a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Hess is the Editorial Coordinator for the Riverfront Times. When he's not, you know, coordinating, he is the DJ of the experimental rock show Wrong Division over at KDHX (88.1 FM). Visit his personal blog here for more on this city's DIY and experimental music. Or stalk him on Twitter.
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