10 Reynolds

Noise

Simon Reynolds (b. 1963) is a contemporary pop music critic and theorist as well as author. The excerpt given is from his book published in 1990, Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock.

"The pleasure of noise lies in the fact that the obliteration of meaning and identity is ecstasy" (56). It would be counter intuitive, then, to try to categorize and describe noise because this would only bind it with 'destructive' identity and meaning. But of course we do it anyway, for the sake of this reading even.

"If music is like a language, … then noise is best described as interference" (55). While I agree that music is a language, I would be more inclined to say that noise is simply another dialect or language itself, although I think of noise with regards to music. By itself, I suppose 'interference' might be a more accurate term. "You could argue that noise occurs in moments, tiny breakages and stresses dispersed all over the surface of music, all kinds of music" (58). Noise is everywhere even if we do not recognize it by tuning it out. Noise may come from instruments associated with music, though this noise is not intended as accompaniment.

Music is often associated with harmony, noise discord. "Noise and horror go hand in hand — because madness and violence are senseless and arbitrary… and the only response is wordless — to scream" (57). This sense of horror has became the focus of rock and roll, as the genre shifts to constantly shock and rebel.

According to Reynolds, noise can be comparable to a drug, in that tolerance is aquired naturally and so it takes more to stimulate a listener. This is "an upward spiral that will one day, sooner than later, culminate in SEIZURE" (57). In other words, the noise/horror trend is destined for a dead end. This is not an entirely bad thing, and there is an escape. It seems though, that the most likely escape would be a shift away from noise, on to something else. A new drug.

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