The blog post I am reading calls the music I am listening to “the noise album of the year.” I might agree, except for the “noise” part.
Somehow this has been sitting out on the Internet for five months without my knowing, which doesn’t jazz me … but some Neil Young fan named Nigel assembled a 41-minute collage of noise jams from Neil and Crazy Horse’s performances this year.
If you’ve seen Neil and the Horse live, you know they’ll sometimes spend a couple minutes throttling a song to death in semi-spontaneous outbursts of feedbacky puke-noise. This mix brings together maybe six or seven of those amorphous jams, in glorious stereo sound.
At one point, Neil and the Horse spend three minutes just crashing down on one twisted non-chord, again and again, with a breath in between: CRUNK – mississippi – CRUNK – mississippi – CRUNK – mississippi.
Whatever they’re hitting stops breathing, but they keep belting it anyway, even slowing down near the end until it seems they might just run out of steam and fall over like wind-up toys.
It’s giant and epic and contains multitudes and all that stuff — the longest three minutes in rock’n’roll, pure value for money and priceless for free.
(You can download the whole thing here. If you don’t come back to read the rest of this post, I’ll understand.)
I like this music. Not all the time, sure. But I like it.
I like the embrace of sonic chance. You’d think people willfully making noise would get old after the first time or two you hear it. But, y’know, it doesn’t; it’s always a little bit different.
I like the deliberate screw-you to people who came expecting to hear hot guitar solos over a four-four beat. There probably aren’t too many people at Crazy Horse concerts who expect professionalism, but it’s fun to hear the band dispense with it anyway.
I like the ominous rumble tube amps make when you turn ’em up past 9, as well as the other sounds arena rock makes when you stick a cherry bomb down its gullet and blow it to pieces.
Speaking of arenas, I also like the fact that 15,000 people can be relied on to turn out for Neil and the Horse’s noise tantrums. I consider that a minor triumph of mass taste.
In an interview I once read, Neil compared his 1992 live-noise album Arc to “Fantastic Voyage” — the idea being that Arc was the sound of getting small enough to enter the feedback and travel through it, like the crew in “Fantastic Voyage” does to the human body.
I am glad that, newly sober and nearing 70, Neil is still up for taking that ride. If he puts out his own version of Arc II, I will support it with my hard-earned cash.
Until then, I will savor the (Crowdsourced) Album of the Year, one tortured CRUNK at a time.