Friday, December 05, 2008

The Nihilist Spasm Band

I went to the Forest City Gallery the other night to see a group of noise music bands. As the name implies, noise music is noise. The instruments used can be traditional, but more often, they are home-made (one dude used a pot with a chain in it as an instrument). They are not tuned to each other. There is very little rhythm or melody. Random chanting or screaming replaces lyrics. Basically, all the defining properties that make music music have been thrown out the window.

But there's something to it. As I sat there with my ears hurting from the extremely loud high-pitched squeal of feedback, there were moments of musical bliss. Even when a bunch of people are just banging out seemingly random sounds, some form of expression, some emotion, still squeaks through. It's like people can't help but create music. Or maybe it's just that people can't help but interpret noise as music. Or maybe it's just that anything remotely pleasing-sounding brings relief after excruciating discord. In any case, while I wouldn't listen to it every day, yeah, there's something to it.

The main act are called The Nihilist Spasm Band. These guys have been around since the 1960s, and there is something strangely awesome about a bunch of old dudes that still get together just to make noise.

Here are pictures:

Nihilist Spasm Band

Disguises. Crazy homemade trumpet thing.

Disguises again. Singer/screamer and chain in a pot.

Forget this guy's name. His noise was entirely electronic, with a bunch of tapes running, and some weird magnet thing that would fuck up the sound.

Here are videos:

Nihilist Spasm Band

Nihilist Spasm Band with guest screaming girl.


Crazy electronic dude (and me forgetting that you can't take videos sideways).

I didn't take this one....but it's the Nihilist Spasm Band being laughed at on Japanese Television. These dudes are world famous.

Edit Dec 8:

OMG, I forgot to show you my button! OMGFG I LOVE BUTTONS!!!!

No music.


tornwordo said...

I think I could be good at that. Looks like it could be therapeutic. Hey btw, thanks for turning me on to Of Montreal.

Sean Wraight said...

Hey Monsieur Phronko,

Good on you for being so bold in the music listening department. Nihilist Spasm Band are one of the Forest City's secret treasures. Everyone needs to experience them at least once. Did you know the guys from R.E.M. performed with them last time they were in London? (2004) Pretty great stuff there.

Oh and I absolutely love the Japanese video you included. Great post and keep spreading the Nihilist love!


sixty-six said...

There is something similar that happens in Vancouver every Wednesday. Called Fake Jazz Wednesdays. Crazy noise punk. One chick decided to masturbate with the microphone?

Sorry for drunk posting. But it's true. Hi everyone.

Phronk said...

Tornwordo: You're very welcome. They're awesome eh? I can't stop listening to Skeletal Lamping.

Sean: I didn't know they performed with REM! That's crazy. I did hear rumours they toured with Sonic Youth.

Drunk 66: Sounds like fun. Guys practically hump their guitars all the time, so masturbating with a microphone is a nice direction to go.