A Journal Of The Dark Arts
There was a time, maybe ten to fifteen years ago, when you got an album with the cryptic noise moniker affixed to it, you knew what to expect – squealing feedback; harsh industrial shouting, probably on some unsavory subject matter; nameless electronics yoked into punishing arrays of sonic warfare, usually adorned in some blurry, nondescript, monochromatic xeroxed album art.
A lot has changed since then, both to the delight and consternation of its practitioners. In the last decade-and-a-half, noise music has flirted with the hipster mainstream a new of times, through the rustbelt machinations of Michigan’s Wolf Eyes, through the electro-freak noise pop from Animal Collective and their many hairy, sundry offspring, through the noise-hop terrorism of Death Grips, Run The Jewels and Clipping, to multiple offshoots of electronic music, most notably the pounding industrial techno of Downwards Records and Hospital Productions, and lo-fi knackered house, as offered from labels like Opal Tapes, and delivered unto the masses via Caribou.
My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush, from the enigmatic ArteTetra Collective, based out of Italy, is a useful and thorough purview of the many shades and hues of noise, as we presently understand it. It’s all here – the dystopian, sci-fi electronics (Moraljetlag, “L’ Origine Du Monde”), to glacial analog sequencer trance (Programmed Cell Death “My Girl Under The Centauri Suns”), to pounding, facemelting beats (Obscure “Concrete Pain”). None of which prepare you for the lo-fi outsider acoustic blue soul of Hurricanes Of Love “Juggalettes Don’t Shave No Pubes”, which is what it might sound like if The Moldy Peaches had grown up in the Piedmont instead of New York, and the very weird Tin Pan Alley ragtime of The Henhouse Highsteppers, “For Sale (Hannah Johnson’s Big Jack Ass)”.
What in the name of all that is unholy is going on here?!?
As if all of this weren’t enough of a surreal detournement, also included is some genuinely uplifting newage mantras – over a Buffalo Springfield sample, to wit, from The Big Drum In The Sky Religion, the only artist with multiple appearances on the comp, which sounds sort of like The MC5‘s Wayne Kramer if he had discovered peyote instead of speed, in the mid ’60s, or One Foot In The Grave-era Beck, if he were to have recorded affirmations for The Church Of Scientology, back then.
While all of this may make for a rather weird and unsettling flow to the album, taking you to some very, very bizarre climes, it is also a more authentic document of how the underground actually functions, speaking for all of us who listen to more than one genre (which is to say, nearly everybody).
Sometimes it seems that the minute factions of tastes and micro-genres is just a marketing ploy, similar to the way they invented more stages of childhood in the __, to have more demographics to pander to and manipulate. While naming things does possess an arcane power (as i write on extensively, for an issue of Wyrd Daze a while back), especially in the location of similar items of interest, there is a destructive divisiveness to the scene, at the same time, fostering in-fighting and one-upmanship, and a holier-than-thou stance with no place in 2015.
In retrospect, it seems that the main function of the 20th Century was dismantling, breaking things down into smaller and smaller pieces, with no thought as to what would fill their place. This was mandatory – sacred cows were slain, and corrupt institutions – such as church and marriage – were abolished or placed under very, very close scrutiny. Musically, one highly specified genre would rise and supplant the other, unceasingly and without fail.
And while this still probably still happens, in the monoculture, underground, all of the tributaries are running back into the ocean, as scenes melt, warp, and collide with one another. On any particular Saturday night, almost anywhere in the world, from seedy bars, to basement bunkers, you can expect to hear a punk bank, a harsh noise outfit, some dubstep, a rapper, plus some DJs, spinning tracks from the 130 years of recorded history.
And while our precious tribalism may be being dismantled, and it might mean that we have to run into people we don’t like at shows, this is predominantly a good thing. I like to imagine that we are returning, at least in essence and spirit, to the early days of punk (at least once it was called that), the days where the Talking Heads may share a bill with Television, Devo, The Ramones, Blondie, and Captain Beefheart. None of these share many sonic similarities, but they all had a kindred spirit. This led to a feeling of cooperation, collaboration, that is so far from the petty backbiting, and one-upmanship, that comes from insularity.
So it is with a warm welcome, we bring all of the artists on My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush into the Forestpunk shadow cult. I like to imagine this place as a spectral Garden Of Lemuel Lo, some sprawling Garden Of (Un)Earthly Delights, with all kinds of shit happening. A harpist may be having a heated discussion with a ballerina, only for the pair to suddenly cease, mid-sentence, and begin a classical improvisation. Philosophers share a pint of blood and mead with nuclear physicists and a practicing devil worshipper, while someone in the distance bangs a Congolese rhythm on empty 50-gallon drums, silhouette by the eerie light of open hibachis.
Because this is how the world is. Nothing is cut and dry. The days of straight lines and easy answers are over, and most likely, they never existed in the first place. They’ve just been revealed as the comforting delusion, a scrim over the void.
One final thought, on the inclusion of the word Goddess in the title. My Goddess has a crazy bush, as well (or at least some of them do). One of our missions here at Forestpunk (i know, i know, show, don’t tell), is an open inclusiveness to as many viewpoints, outside of the Anglo male singularity as possible. While some of us may have been born with a Y chromosome, we have NEVER fit in with the prevailing patriarchy. A life lived only by common sense and reason is not a life worth living.
Instead, we offer a third path – a middle way. A path of conversation and an attempt at understanding. We don’t steal from far-off cultures, but we borrow from and appreciate all of them. We paint our nails pale pink, and our faces white, and go out to kill in black metal moshpits. We bury subliminal, pineal-activating messages in hedonistic dancefloor abandon, and write lengthy doctoral theses on black magick and the early days of Disneyland.
It’s all running together, now, so it’s time to mutate or get out of the way. And, in case you didn’t get the mimeograph, adaptability is a virtue.
The ArteTetra Collective are doing something really cool, and really important – and pulling it off admirably.
Favorite Tracks: Moraljetlag – L’origine du monde, Programmed Cell Death – My Girl Under The Centauri Suns, Obscure – Concrete Pain, Garage Olimpo – My Lover Is A Werewolf, Aural Resuscitation Unit – To Let Go Of It
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