Friday, November 05, 2010

As Loud As Possible

As Loud As Possible - The Noise Culture Magazine

It took it’s time but it was worth the wait. Two years in the making. Much head scratching, much gnashing of teeth, plenty of water under the bridge but here it is in my hands, all 166 pages in glorious black and white and with a spine you could knock nails in with.
The sight of ALAP tucked under the arms of various punters at last weeks Lowest Forms was a heartening one. In the German bar people could be hard saying ‘does it exist then?’ Such had been the continuous delays that it seemed as if ALAP was destined never to appear. But it did.
We have Chris Sienko and Steve Underwood to thank for ALAP. They’re the ones who’ve pumped their time, brains and money into it and they didn’t do it just because it seemed like a jolly wheeze. These guys have a deep, serious interest in and love of noise and have brains so crammed full of noise trivia that it needed to find a permanent home. Between them they contribute the bulk of the articles and reviews. Underwood’s piece on the highly influential Broken Flag label runs for the best part of a fifth of the mag and is the main body of the beast. Besides interviewing label supremo Gary Mundy at great length he also includes interviews with just about all the artists who appeared on the label - an undertaking that has produced fascinating results. As it stands it’s unlikely ever to be surpassed. He then turns his sights on Nigel Jacklin’s late 70’s early 80’s organisation Alien Brains, the mid 80’s fanzine Interchange, the hard to pin down UK experimenter Cheap Machines and long running UK noise project Putrefier. Each one a well thought out and executed piece of journalism. There’s also an illuminating interview with No Fun organiser, artist and label boss Carlos Giffoni which, once read, should be enough to put anyone off organising live events for life.
Chris Sienko’s forte is his ability to talk eloquently and in great depth about noise. His reviews are both well thought out, carefully balanced and entertaining. This is no sycophantic wank mag though and when the need to criticise arises he deals with it in a professional and even handed manner. His editorial, which sets the tone for the mag, shows that noise music has in its grasp an erudite and far reaching thinker and with articles and interviews with obscure outfits like Zone Nord, the progressive PE outfit Climax Denial and the tape label IDES he, like Underwood, finds an outlet for his infatuations.
In and amongst all this there’s input from Mikko Aspa, GX Jupitter-Larsen and John Olson to name but a few. The piece by GX on his early days as a Hater makes for inspirational reading and with articles like Classic Albums and the obligatory reviews section it all builds up into an essential publication. What you have to bear in mind though is that this is just the starting point. The possibility of further forays into the highly productive and influential early 80’s noise scene must also be considered. Japan and America beckon.
I have my caveats though: the article on Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock by Alice Kemp is just a tad too dry for me. I was expecting a half drunk interview with Rudolph as recorded in a scuzzy bar in Shinjuku but what I got instead was comparisons to Artaud and the Theatre of Cruelty. The review section too, whilst in depth [maybe too in depth for some], is made just about redundant by the length of time it takes for the mag to come out. This is the only instance where the internet has the upper hand - releases that run to 50 copies tend not hang about too long and Sienko is wise enough to acknowledge this. But this is spilt beer in a German beer house. Where else are you going to go? Sound Projector and Wire are fine in their own right and the recently founded Special Interests fills a hefty gap but for sheer volume of information and enthusiasm ALAP has already made itself the number one purchase for any discerning noise fan. And besides, where else are you going to discover which LP it is that John Olson is willing to swap his wife for?
ALAP exists then because it had to. ALAP exists because over the years noise music has found itself ridiculed, an easy to categorise genre that can be dealt with in a cursory manner by any journo who happens to have heard of Merzbow. What noise needed was a magazine of its own where people have the room to write in depth articles about certain aspects of noise, where its heritage can be sifted through, where its practitioners can be interviewed, in depth, on paper, in your hands, in a thick wedge of a magazine that shows that there are people out there who do take noise seriously. Because noise still has a life, it continues to mutate, it isn’t stuck in a rut. Don’t believe the tripe. Buy the mag.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Nice words. I am reading this magazine...slowly...savouring the words.
It is a magazine where the editors know their history - Interchange, ND, Zig-Zag, Re:Search publications, and it is building in to a fine read. I must admit to skipping through the Rita guy's piece and Sewer Election. I watch CBeebies alot and there's this piece where a guy goes "I've found a sound...what sound is it"? That is what HNW is to me. The same sound will have a different name in a few years time. The Juppiter Castrol GTX piece is a great compelling read and the Alien Brains is making me pine for days of old - it is shaping up to be a great read.
Noise has not had such a great magazine since "Just Glittering" !!