Experiments in Sound: Noise Musicians in New Orleans
Noise music. The two words sound like they should never be paired together, right? But for a small pocket of atypical musicians, swirling sounds that ebb and flow unpredictably are as necessary as Jackson Pollock's abstracts or Marcel Duchamp's found art.
We sat down with Bradley Black and Isidro Robinson for a special "Artists In Their Own Words" WWNO style.
BB: At a certain point musical expression comes out from the tools you have around you, through instrument building, or through taking what's around you and using it in a way that feels natural to you. It's maybe not even the way the object really wants to be interacted with, but you do what comes. Do what comes when you try it out. That's, to me, the most exciting musical moments.
Q: So what's a tool or object that a lot of people often use in experimental music that you don't ever use?
IR: I think computers are often associated with 'experimental music.' The idea of using a computer for performing music is sort of horrifying to me because it's so powerful. If it doesn't work you can't do anything at all.
BB: I don't think I've ever seen a computer do anything interesting when it doesn't do what it's supposed to. It's purely yes or no.
IR: If you have an analogue synthesizer and suddenly the voltage starts glitching out then you actually get some pretty interesting, exciting results. With a computer, you're just out of luck.
BB: Chaos is pretty critical to noise music. Letting a bit of entropy into something. Set something up and then you watch how it decays. You watch how it destroys something else. You put too many things through one signal chain maybe, and those things have this interesting little tussle. And usually cool sounds are the result.
Q: I'm thinking about your interaction with objects--inanimate objects--so I want to know when you think it's important to make eye contact.
BB: I think I'm really hesitant to address people eye to eye because of the relationship of platform, stage, microphone. This overlording thing. I don't want there to be this dynamic of consumer and producer. It's much more like we're all in this space, and you're bringing this music into the room. It's less about giving and taking.
IR: Yeah, I guess it's all circumstantial to me. When we're practicing and building sections and figuring things out there's a lot of eye contact. We keep practicing and practicing and then it gets to a point where I notice that we're not looking at each other. That's this sort of breakthrough, exciting moment where we can both exist with the music together without necessarily even communicating visually. With the audience, the music has to be happening in a very natural and very rehearsed way in order for me to make eye contact. Otherwise, I end up feeling distracted. I'll make eye contact, and then I'll start thinking about what I need to get at Rouses on my way home. I lose my track and end up messing up live. That's happened a few times.
If you want to hear Isidro and Bradley, they'll be playing on December 18 at Saturn Bar. You can check them out at Whom Do you Work For and Isidro Robinson. Check out Nolavie's "Artist In Their Own Words" on December 18 for more questions and responses from Bradley and Isidro.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at [email protected].