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V/A - Viva Negativa!: A Tribute to the New Blockaders Vol. III

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Artist: V/A

Album: Viva Negativa!: A Tribute to the New Blockaders Vol. III

Label: Important

Review date: Jan. 7, 2011

These two discs, a sideways tribute to one of the original “noise bands” (TNB were contemporaries of AMM, Throbbing Gristle, and others who answered Metal Machine Music and created full-time gigs for themselves; here’s some badly translated exposition), are parts of a much, much larger whole. Viva Negativa! began as an eight-LP box set, and the vinyl and combined CD versions contain exclusive tracks. Oh, and they’re all extremely limited editions -- at press time, this baby was already going for 179 frogskins on the eBay. So the noise scene’s fetishism is out in force here.

If you’re lucky enough to hear this, you get a heapin’ helpin’ of straight-up power-electronics sadism. And enough scattered percussion, eerie ambience, and other variations to keep things not just tolerable but intriguing.

At this point, noise music is a mature industry, and it’s interesting to hear artists from every epoch and subgenre checking in. Are my theorist eggheads in the house? (Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke, Carlos Giffoni) Are my torture-porn misanthropists in the house? (The Haters, Richard Ramirez, Prurient) Are my hell-yeah, rock-minus-structure meatheads in the house? (Wolf Eyes, Aaron Dilloway) Are there some brilliant and hilarious band names? (Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, Broken Penis Orchestra)

And does it all chime together surprisingly well? It does. They can wheeze all they want about “anti-art” and smashing the tyranny of 4/4 and creating something new under the sun, but “noise musicians” are part of a sonic tradition as codified as anything else on the pop spectrum. Their furiously articulate response to rock and jazz conventions isn’t an end-all rebellion -- it’s one of many possible responses, essentially more like dub or Beefheart (R.I.P.) or hip hop than the apocalypse, with its own standards, practices and secret language.

The New Blockaders didn’t destroy pop music; they helped create a particular form of reactionary catharsis, and none of its myriad tributaries flow far from the source. Noise is everywhere, but if you’re new to this particular stuff, and extremely lucky, this collection could serve as a primer.

By Emerson Dameron

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