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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

No wave is a music genre, named for the transient avant-garde music and visual art scene from which it emerged in the late 1970s in downtown New York City.[4][5]

The term "no wave" was a pun based on the rejection of commercial new wave music.[6] Reacting against punk rock's recycling of rock and roll clichés, no wave musicians instead experimented with noise, dissonance and atonality in addition to non-rock genres like free jazz and disco while often reflecting an abrasive, confrontational, and nihilistic worldview.[7][8][9]

The movement was short-lived but highly influential in the music world. Aside from the music genre, the no wave movement also had a significant influence in independent film (no wave cinema), fashion, and visual art.[10]

Overview/characteristics

No wave is not a clearly definable musical genre with consistent features, but it generally was characterized by a rejection of the recycling of traditional rock aesthetics, such as blues rock styles and Chuck Berry guitar riffs in punk and new wave music.[8] Various groups drew on or explored such disparate styles as funk, jazz, blues, punk rock, and the avant garde.[4] According to Village Voice writer Steve Anderson, the scene pursued an abrasive reductionism which "undermined the power and mystique of a rock vanguard by depriving it of a tradition to react against".[11] Anderson claimed that the no wave scene represented "New York's last stylistically cohesive avant-rock movement".[11]

There were, however, some elements common to most no-wave music, such as abrasive atonal sounds; repetitive, driving rhythms; and a tendency to emphasize musical texture over melody—typical of La Monte Young's early downtown music.[10] In the early 1980s, Downtown Manhattan's no wave scene transitioned from its abrasive origins into a more dance-oriented sound, with compilations such as ZE Records's Mutant Disco (1981) highlighting a playful sensibility borne out of the city's clash of hip hop, disco and punk styles, as well as dub reggae and world music influences.[12]

No wave music presented a negative and nihilistic world view that reflected the desolation of late 1970s downtown New York and how they viewed the larger society. In a 2020 essay, Lydia Lunch stated there were many problems in the years that led into the 1970s, and that calling 1967 the Summer of Love was a bald-faced lie.[13] The term "no wave" was probably inspired by the French New Wave pioneer Claude Chabrol, with his remark "There are no waves, only the ocean".[14][15]

Early forerunners

Nihilist Spasm Band were an early noise music/noise rock[16] band from the 1960s. Their debut record No Record, released in 1968, has been described as being a '60s precursor to no wave, with its nihilistic world view and complete disregard for any sort of musical structure, as evinced by the freely improvised noise of songs such as "Destroy The Nations" and "Dog Face Man". The band plastered the word "NO" on much of their equipment and handmade instruments, and recorded a film between 1965 and 1966 entitled "NO Movie". Member Bill Exley would sometimes wear a monkey mask on stage to conceal his identity.[17]

The Velvet Underground were a 1960s New York City band, are also seen as early contributors to the no wave movement. As described by Pitchfork's Marc Masters: "Mixing the noisy rock leanings of Lou Reed, the minimalist  drones of John Cale (via his work with avant-garde pioneer LaMonte Young), and the art world influence of Andy Warhol's Factory, this seminal band provided a comprehensive model for No Wave."[18]

Cromagnon were a 1960s New York City band whose sole album Orgasm was cited by AllMusic's Alex Henderson as foreshadowing no-wave.[19]

Suicide were a New York City band that was formed in 1970 by Alan Vega and Martin Rev, they've been cited by Pitchfork's Marc Masters as having "the biggest influence on no-wave".[18]

Jack Ruby were a New York City band that formed in 1973, they were an early influence on Sonic Youth and Thurston Moore, and are seen as early pioneers of the aesthetic, philosophy, and sound of no wave.[20]

Etymology

There are different theories about how the term was coined. Some suggest Lydia Lunch coined the term in an interview with Roy Trakin in New York Rocker.[21] Others suggest it was coined by Chris Nelson (of Mofungo and The Scene Is Now) in New York Rocker.[22][23] Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth claimed to see the term spray-painted on CBGB Second Avenue Theater before seeing it in the press.[24]

The no-wave music scene

In 1978, a punk subculture-influenced noise series was held at New York's Artists Space.[25] No wave musicians such as the Contortions, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, DNA, Theoretical Girls and Rhys Chatham began experimenting with noise, dissonance and atonality in addition to non-rock styles.[26] The former four groups were included on the compilation No New York, often considered the quintessential testament to the scene.[27] The no wave-affiliated label ZE Records was founded in 1978, and would also produce acclaimed and influential compilations in subsequent years.[12]

By the early 1980s, artists such as Liquid Liquid, the B-52's, Cristina, Arthur Russell, James White and the Blacks and Lizzy Mercier Descloux developed a dance-oriented style described by Lucy Sante as "anything at all + disco bottom".[28] Other no-wave groups such as Swans, Suicide, Glenn Branca, the Lounge Lizards, Bush Tetras and Sonic Youth instead continued exploring the forays into noise music abrasive territory.[29] For example, Noise Fest was an influential festival of no wave noise music performances curated by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth at the New York City art space White Columns in June 1981. Sonic Youth made their first live appearances at this show.[30] It inspired Speed Trials, the noise rock five-night concert series held May 4–8, 1983, that was organized by Live Skull members in May 1983, also at White Columns (then located at 91 Horatio Street). Among an art installation created by David Wojnarowicz and Joseph Nechvatal, Speed Trials included performances by the Fall, Sonic Youth,[31] Lydia Lunch, Mofungo, Ilona Granet, pre-rap Beastie Boys, 3 Teens Kill 4, Elliott Sharp as Carbon, Swans, the Ordinaires, and Arto Lindsay[32] as Toy Killers. On May 10, the San Francisco noise-punk band Flipper closed the series out with a live concert at Studio 54. This event also included performances by Zev and Eric Bogosian and a video presentation by Tony Oursler. Speed Trials was followed by the short-lived after-hours audio art Speed Club that was established by Nechvatal and Bradley Eros at ABC No Rio that summer.[33]

Other art mediums in the no wave scene

Cinema

No wave cinema was an underground film scene in Tribeca and the East Village. Filmmakers included Amos Poe, Eric Mitchell, Charlie Ahearn, Vincent Gallo, James Nares, Jim Jarmusch, Vivienne Dick, Scott B and Beth B and Seth Tillett, and led to the Cinema of Transgression and work by Nick Zedd and Richard Kern.[34]

Visual art

Visual artists played a large role in the no wave scene, as visual artists often were playing in bands, or making videos and films, while making visual art for exhibition. An early influence on this aspect of the scene was Alan Vega (aka Alan Suicide) whose electronic junk sculpture predated his role in the music group Suicide, which he formed with fellow musician Martin Rev in 1970. They released Suicide, their first album, in 1977.

Irish artist and film maker Vivienne Dick made a number of Super 8 films with Lydia Lunch in the mid-1970s in New York.

An important exhibition of no wave visual art was Colab's organization of The Times Square Show.[35] In June 1980, more than 100 artists installed their works in an empty massage parlor near Times Square that included punk visual artists, graffiti artists, feminist artists, political artists, Xerox artists and performance artists.[36]

No wave art found an ongoing home on the Lower East Side with the establishment of ABC No Rio Gallery in 1980, and a no wave punk aesthetic was a dominant strand in the art galleries of the East Village (from 1982 to 1986).[33]

Legacy

In a foreword to the book No Wave, Weasel Walter wrote of the movement's ongoing influence:

I began to express myself musically in a way that felt true to myself, constantly pushing the limits of idiom or genre and always screaming "Fuck You!" loudly in the process. It's how I felt then and I still feel it now. The ideals behind the (anti-) movement known as No Wave were found in many other archetypes before and just as many afterwards, but for a few years around the late 1970s, the concentration of those ideals reached a cohesive, white-hot focus.[37]

In 2004, Scott Crary made the documentary Kill Your Idols, including such no wave bands as Suicide, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, DNA and Glenn Branca as well as bands influenced by no wave, including Sonic Youth, Swans, Foetus and others.

In 2007–2008, three books on the scene were published: Soul Jazz's New York Noise,[38] Marc Masters' No Wave,[39] and Thurston Moore and Byron Coley's No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976–1980.[40]

Coleen Fitzgibbon and Alan W. Moore created a short film in 1978 (finished in 2009) of a New York City no wave concert to benefit Colab titled X Magazine Benefit, documenting performances by DNA, James Chance and the Contortions, and Boris Policeband. Shot in black and white and edited on video, the film captured the gritty look and sound of the music scene during that era. In 2013, it was exhibited at Salon 94, an art gallery in New York City.[41]

Music compilations

Documentary films

See also

References

  1. ^ Lawrence, Tim (2009). Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992. Duke University Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-8223-9085-5.
  2. ^ Leone, Dominique (20 June 2004). "Black Dice: Creature Comforts Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  3. ^ Murray, Charles Shaar (October 1991). Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix & The Post-War Rock 'N' Roll Revolution. Macmillan. p. 205. ISBN 9780312063245. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b Romanowski, P., ed. (1995) [1983]. The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. H. George-Warren & J. Pareles (Revised ed.). New York: Fireside. pp. 717. ISBN 0-684-81044-1.
  5. ^ Masters 2007, p. 5
  6. ^ Alison Pearlman, Unpackaging art of the 1980s, p. 188
  7. ^ McLaren, Trevor (17 February 2005). "James Chance and the Contortions: Buy". Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  8. ^ a b "NO!: The Origins of No Wave". Pitchfork.
  9. ^ "No Wave – Music Highlights – AllMusic". AllMusic.
  10. ^ a b Masters 2007, p. 200
  11. ^ a b Foege, Alec (October 1994). Confusion Is Next: The Sonic Youth Story. Macmillan. pp. 68–9. ISBN 9780312113698.
  12. ^ a b Reynolds 2005, pp. 269.
  13. ^ "Beth B: War Is Never Over". IFFR. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  14. ^ O'Brien, Glenn (October 1999). "Style Makes the Band". Artforum International.
  15. ^ Kalat, David. "Ch 20 The Story of Chabrol." The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse: A Study of the Twelve Films and Five Novels. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. N. pag. Print.
  16. ^ "The Nihilist Spasm Band invented noise rock in 1965". 10 February 2017.
  17. ^ "The Nihilist Spasm Band | Interview". 24 November 2014.
  18. ^ a b "NO!: The Origins of No Wave". Pitchfork.
  19. ^ "Cromagnon - Orgasm Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  20. ^ "Thurston Moore on Jack Ruby: The forgotten heroes of pre-punk". TheGuardian.com. 25 April 2014.
  21. ^ "NO!: The Origins of No Wave". Pitchfork. January 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ "Mofungo". Perfect Sound Forever. August 1997. Retrieved 6 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ Lang, Dave (July 1998). "The SST Records story - Part 3". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved 6 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "Conversations with Thurston Moore: No Wave". June 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ "James Chance interview | Pitchfork".
  26. ^ Reynolds 2005, pp. 140.
  27. ^ Masters, Marc (2008). No Wave. New York City: Black Dog Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-906155-02-5.
  28. ^ Reynolds 2005, pp. 268.
  29. ^ Reynolds 2005, pp. 139–150.
  30. ^ Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-punk 1978-1984 (2006) Penguin
  31. ^ [1] John Rockwell ART ROCK: 6 GROUPS PLAY, New York Times, 1983
  32. ^ Dougan, John; Westergaard, Sean. "Biography: Arto Lindsay". Allmusic. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  33. ^ a b Carlo McCormick, The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984, Princeton University Press, 2006
  34. ^ "No Wavelength: The Para-Punk Underground".
  35. ^ Masters 2007, p. 19
  36. ^ "Times Square Show Revisited".
  37. ^ Masters 2007
  38. ^ "Soul Jazz Records – New York Noise – Art and Music from the New York Underground 1978–88".
  39. ^ No Wave Archived 14 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine, with a foreword by Weasel Walter (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007), ISBN 978-1-906155-02-5.
  40. ^ "Harry N. Abrams, Inc. No Wave".
  41. ^ "Pulse Generator Pastry, NY Mix—Salon 94". Salon94.

Sources

  • Berendt, Joachim E. The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to Fusion and Beyond, revised by Günther Huesmann, translated by H. and B. Bredigkeit with Dan Morgenstern. Brooklyn: Lawrence Hill Books, 1992. "The Styles of Jazz: From the Eighties to the Nineties," p. 57–59. ISBN 1-55652-098-0
  • Masters, Marc (2007). No Wave. London: Black Dog Publishing. ISBN 978-1-906155-02-5.
  • Moore, Alan W. "Artists' Collectives: Focus on New York, 1975–2000". In Collectivism After Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945, edited by Blake Stimson & Gregory Sholette, 203. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
  • Moore, Alan W., and Marc Miller (eds.). ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery. New York: Collaborative Projects, 1985
  • Pearlman, Alison, Unpackaging Art of the 1980s. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
  • Reynolds, Simon (2005). "Contort Yourself: No Wave New York". Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-punk 1978–84. London: Faber and Faber, Ltd. pp. 139–157.
  • Taylor, Marvin J. (ed.). The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984, foreword by Lynn Gumpert. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-691-12286-5

External links

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