Intense, surreal, remote, dynamic. Come along with us as we chronicle the adventures of the soul through psychedelic, drone, noise, experimental, pop music based around Chicago bands in particular and local bands everywhere.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vertonen / Noise

On Friday, February 19, I made my very first trip to Enemy, and experienced the world of noise in a most direct and profound manner. Previously I associated myself with noise in terms of how to infuse pop music or pop structures with the most noise possible, destroying and then reconstructing the familiar with opaque, distant, terrifying, or bizarre elements. In each of these cases, noise was only ever associated with "noise rock;" this, I learned rather quickly, was not noise rock. This was noise.

Vertonen started a confrontational, short set by manipulating objects and machines that were intended for commercial use, or to air commercial music or commercial culture (as pointed out by my friend, Travis Bird), and after I recovered from the instant shock of the buzz, grinding feedback, metallic screeching, I found an underlying message through what became a hypnotic drone.

Long have I found Karl Marx to be an inspirational cultural theorist, emphasizing the primacy of the concrete world, impacting the senses and forming the creation of our knowledge at every step of the way. It is at points where abstract ideals without grounding in the concrete world, abstracting and atomizing the individual from their situation, that the world begins to run astray, and the materials appropriated for production and the relations of production themselves take on harmful forms in this abstract idealized world -- a false world.

Never did I expect Marx to become a fully salient theorist of art, or theorist of aesthetics (which in the case of noise would be not the theory of beauty, but the theory of re-appropriating and re-configuring industrial, commercial, constructed objects, found, or cultural objects in order to strip them of their conventional aspect of beauty that is assigned to them through a function associated with an abstract, idealized world -- the false world).

Yet, as I stood there, it occurred to me that even where Marxist ideologies failed the Nineteenth and Twentieth century in terms of their actual appropriation by so-called revolutionaries and ideologues, the cultural impact of Marx is as fresh as ever. If the strength of the American bureaucracy and state, now joined through their shared interest of maintaining private property and upholding the ever-thriving and morphing contradictions of capital, require us to abandon a societal revolution towards the state, the revolution must first begin with our very senses, our point of access to the world, senses which have been lead astray by omnipresent commerce and corporate objects, serving to strengthen the false world by upholding stifling representational images and irresistible objects of beauty.

Our ethics, our actions, the very foundation of our knowledge are informed by these misleading images and objects, and it is through the manipulation of objects, reclaiming the commonplace for the common person, reclaiming what is readily available and concrete for actual interaction with a direct and immediate community, that we may find a promising prospect for reorienting our senses to the world and reclaiming the concrete for ourselves and others, knowing full well that we are not abstracted individuals, atomized individuals, but living, breathing, political, sensual agents -- one wouldn't necessarily know that by viewing society-at-large, fully engaged and distracted by chimerical pop culture and excess.

Perhaps these very machines, which strip humans of their agency and their need to act in their own concrete situation, turning them into abstracted ideals themselves, fantastical individuals rather than truthful individuals, these very machines as they are manipulated, stripped, re-appropriated, terrorized, and most of all, claimed, by concrete bodies, concrete artists emerging from the material to engage a new path for knowledge, are once again the key to our freedom.

A freedom that is once again completely insecure, dangerous, vital, loud. Not the formal freedom ensured by piles of deeds and court files at the Clerk's office, but the uncertain freedom of everyday interaction directly with our community.

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