Friday, May 07, 2004

No Wave Friday

As someone mentioned in last week's comments section, the DNA compilation is out next Tuesday. Details are here. Some of the hard-to-find stuff isn't the best (especially the tracks from the Disques Du Crepuscule compilation, just to warn you) but it'll be great to have the 7" single on CD. Lately I've been wondering about the relationship between the beginning of Gang of Four's At Home He's A Tourist (this is the version from their Peel Sessions CD) and the beginning of DNA's You and You. I hear a lot of similarity, but maybe I'm overthinking things: try to imagine a bass in place of Crutchfield's keyboard and see what you think. The release dates are pretty close, and I don't know who wrote what when, so maybe it's just two people arriving at the same point at similar times.

One interesting thing though: despite the fact that Arto Lindsay just about never played real chords/notes, none of his guitar noise parts in the other DNA songs really sound like what he's doing on You and You. Same goes for Andrew Gill: he makes a lot of noise elsewhere, but the way he slashes at his guitar off-the-beat on Tourist is fairly unique. Maybe someone reading this can tell me more.

I tried to avoid No New York during this Friday thing, assuming that everyone is familiar with that ground-zero document of No Wave, but it probably wouldn't hurt to post a track or two. Here's DNA doing Not Moving...if you think of No Wave as unstructured noise, you may be surprised to hear how tightly put together this actually is. Also, if you've only heard this on scratchy vinyl or a lousy stereo system (I was in that boat until very recently) you may be surprised by the recording quality...I was listening to this at the gym on headphones and marveling at how incredible it sounds. Eno may have "just set up the microphones" but he sure placed them well.

When I first bought No New York I was young, and preferred the slightly more traditional side one (The Contortions and Teenage Jesus). As I get older, though, it's side two (Mars and DNA) that I like the best. Mars were known as the most out-there band on the album, but their stuff is surprisingly tight as that the recordings are becoming more accessible, it'll be nice to see some of the hyperbole surrounding this stuff finally put to rest. As with DNA, you basically get a drummer playing a repeating pattern while the noise is pasted on top. And, if you listen to the guitar parts on, say, Helen Forsdale there's actually a fair amount of rhyme/reason behind what they're doing. The bass is playing what's really a fairly normal line...once you focus on what's holding the song together you realize that it's pretty far from the uncontrolled mess that you might expect if you've only read about it.

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