waves

On noise and Second Square to None

A piece I wrote for the online version of the now defunct Analogue Magazine.

The number of venues for experimental music in Dublin has always been limited, and with the demise of what once were regular Lazybird events in the International recently, it became more limited still. Celebrating their first birthday on the 20th of December, the Second Square to None collective – who run monthly events in Twisted Pepper – aim to plug that gap by providing a forum for experimental and noise music – as well as ambient, downbeat, and electronica – in the city. To my mind, probably SSTN’s most exciting function lies in its offering a space for genres of sound that would otherwise languish unheard on the Dublin scene – one of those being noise.

Noise music’s first manifesto came from Luigi Russolo in 1913, who argued that, ‘The limited circle of pure sounds [as produced by orchestral and other traditional instruments] must be broken, and the infinite variety of ‘noise-sound’ conquered.’ This ‘infinite variety’ was explored in the twentieth century by artists from John Cage to Lou Reed to Merzbow (and many many more in-between), but as the twentieth century bled into the twenty-first, and computers became ubiquitous, the ‘infinite variety’ has morphed into something more like ‘infinity squared’. Not that the genre was growing tired, in need of a shot in the arm, as it were, but the ubiquity of both the hard and software needed to mangle and mash audio meant that more and more artists began to play around at the boundaries of sound. Continue reading →