Words About Noise

I liked the introduction to Bryan Berge’s review of Tom Smith/Sightings’ Gardens Of War:

“Noise defies language. In the everyday sense, noise is the category of sound that cannot be explained (“what is that noise?”) or doesn’t merit explanation (background noise). Thus noise is marked primarily in its relation to language, or more precisely in that lack of relation. In a technical sense, noise lacks the typical harmonic patterns that mark most resonant sounds produced by this wide world o’ vibrating objects. This too is a refusal of language, that most important of organized sounds in our acoustic lives. And finally, noise music attempts to obliterate our critical faculties, to send reason scurrying to a tranquil wrinkle deep in the brain stem while caustic sound ravages the ears. At its best, noise overwhelms, leaving the listener a battered, quivering mass of flesh who gulps for air and squeaks like an animal but who certainly does not smugly put down the headphones and deliver a discourse on the effectiveness of the brutal crunching sound in the fourth minute of the third track.

But here I go anyway.”


“Whenever I was tempted to form a thought during Gardens of War – “this song sounds like a particularly frightening Sunburned Hand of Man session overrun by homicidal robots” or “is that fuzz guitar playing some sort of insect melody�” – a grating din arrived to punish me. We’re talking some serious negative reinforcement here. So I never strived for language and conscious analysis again – all that you see here was written after the album had seeped into my skin after so many listens that I could relive it without the threat of another storm cloud breaking in my ears.

Only guttural grunts and surreal words-in-isolation issued from my brain and mouth while the record played.

As such, I did a spot-on impersonation of Tom Smith’s vocals.”

There’s also a bit about being forced into a corner by a big angry man with a genre fetish, but it doesn’t work well when excerpted.