parodies by nacrowe
i think like a lot of people i feel a certain sense of COMPLACENCY in my listening habits at times, especially as i get older. what was once NOVEL and INNOVATIVE inevitably becomes part of a growing catalogue of interesting diversions in my mind's eye. it feels like when the proper MOOD or situation arises, i am readily equipped to curate the proper soundtrack, if only for myself. at times i feel JADED by my own taste and seeming inability to appreciate new music.
what i love about the NO WAVE bands is that they are stridently UNCOMPROMISING and aggressively NONCOFORMIST. its almost like discovering that SONIC ANARCHY that was ORNETTE COLEMAN after a lifetime of initiation into the contemplative melodicism of JOHN COLTRANE, the sincere poignancy of LOUIS ARMSTRONG or technical dexterity of SONNY ROLLINS. COLEMAN was pure UNGUARDED, UNADULTERATED EXPRESSION unencumbered by traditional constraints of form or theory.
such is NO WAVE as well. when i want my musical palette cleansed, i listen to SWANS or DINOSAUR L, JAMES CHANCE & THE CONTORTIONS, LYDIA LYNCH, DNA or SUICIDE. it makes me realize that limitations are self-induced and the symptom resulting from a lack of COURAGE and/or IMAGINATION. listening to NO WAVE groups is a CONFRONTATIONAL EXPERIENCE that makes me consider what my own self-imposed limitations are not just as a music listener, but as an appreciator of art and as a CONSCIOUS HUMAN BEING in general. these artists were absolutely on the edge of something. sometimes im not even sure what. its like that classic line from THIS IS SPINAL TAP (EMBASSY, 1984), "it's such a fine line between stupid and clever." at times i dont know what side of that threshold some of these bands are on, or myself for that matter. does it even matter? who decides and who cares?
and that dynamic is pretty much the FUN and enduring appeal of NO WAVE bands. in the modern era where seemingly every flavor of music is MARKETED, COMMODITIZED and ultimately rendered DISPOSABLE, these EXPERIMENTAL groups from the late 70s and early 80s somehow found a way to stay RELEVANT and RESISTANT to being pigeon-holed more than four decades on. its like a cultural CHEAT CODE or something. im endlessly fascinated by the idea that these bands defy easy categorization, and yet their music remains VITAL and ENJOYABLE to consume.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode from the winter of 2020 on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC dedicated to the music of the brief NO WAVE era in NYC. enjoy!