“The Jesus and Mary Chain seemed to come from nowhere way back when, that lost decade found somewhere within the mid-1980s. Something’s gotta f***ing give, the zeitgeist was screaming, somebody’s gotta take all this noise to its extreme edge, give us all a smug, punk sneer, call it music, cause riots, get arrested, sell records. In the case of You Trip Me Up, that meant taking a nice little la-la-la love song and plugging it into the end of the universe. Sometimes on late night radio, we’d play it at the same time as Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive, both channels maxed to eleven – like competing nuclear mushroom clouds. It had to be done.” (Philip Random)
“No doubt about it, Negativland‘s fourth album Escape From Noise was album of the year 1988, assuming you’d pretty much had it with music by that point, which I had. Not that there weren’t cool songs, essential melodies continuing to percolate. Noise just seemed a more relevant response to the prevailing cultural sewage of the time, which there was no escaping, except by diving full-on into it, which is what Escape From Noise (song and album) is really all about. And it’s hilarious, from beginning to end.” (Philip Random)
Before they were mixing it up with big beats and samples and otherwise bringing the millennial noise, Pop Will Eat Itself were psyche-garage punk malcontents (aka Grebos), and way smarter than they were letting on as their torn up take on Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s annoying 1986 hit made rather clear. And no, there’s no intended Satanic significance in this being the 666 selection on the list – just how things worked out.
In which Severed Heads remind us that there’s joy in repetition, or maybe just madness; and truth in the notion that many of the so-called Industrial artists of the 1980s only got worse as they got better at figuring out their instruments and related technology, got to sounding more and more like normal musicians. In Severed Heads case, that means they’d peaked long before I ever heard them via any number of cassette only releases. But fortunately, that truth eventually found me via Clifford Darling, Please Don’t Live In The Past, a double vinyl compilation full of delightfully strange and, if needs be, antagonistic excursions.
“The Beatnigs only released one album, and it’s unique. A place where industrial noise and all manner of other musics don’t so much blend as find a way to grind together, intensely and intelligently, with Nature a standout because I agree with Michael Franti, yeah, I love all the doves and coyotes and flamingoes and rats running wild and free, but short of a dog or two, all of my favorite animals are human.” (Philip Random)
“Track one, side one from the first Pixies album, Come on Pilgrim. I even heard it at the time and, genius that I was, decided it was pretty good, but I was more into noise in those days. I needed things falling apart, a soundtrack for the corrosion inherent in my late 80s worldview. Then maybe eight years later, couch-surfing in Berlin, a half-condemned building east of where the wall had been, I stumbled upon a beat up Eastern Block bootleg copy, left over from those grey and perilous days. I was finally ready.” (Philip Random)
In which the legendary MC5 kick things so hard, loud and superlative that the very rules of physics break down, all known boundaries of space and time dissolve, music and noise fuse as a higher sonic form, Sun Ra‘s starship is encountered roughly halfway to Jupiter (or perhaps Africa), and entire galaxies are set blissfully free.
It’s 1987 and Tackhead are already delivering it, even as Public Enemy are speaking of bringing it. The Noise, that is. Big beats, no bullshit, as many samples as you can jam into two inches of audio tape. And in the case of Tackhead, genuinely hot playing, because they were most definitely a band. “I seem to remember the original 12-inch single version of Mind at the End of the Tether being the better one – stronger, less cluttered. But the version on the Tape Time album speaks its the truth regardless. Superlative and loud and surrounded by tracks of equal cacophony. If you truly wish to know what the latter part of the mid-80s sounded like, start here.” (Philip Random)
In which Negativland kick off their fourth album, 1987’s Escape From Noise, with not a song but an announcement. Which is rather appropriate for 1987, it definitely being a year where music didn’t suck so much as NOISE suddenly felt very relevant. And nobody’s ever done NOISE as superlatively, as hilariously , as relevantly as Negativland, from suburban San Francisco (or is it Oakland?) – wherever Contra Costa County is.