A sub-genre of Rock music that became prominent in the 1980s.
Noise Rock makes use of the traditional instrumentation and iconography of Rock, but incorporates atonality and especially dissonance, and frequently discards typical songwriting conventions.
The New York No Wave scene, featuring such artists as Mars and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in the late 1970s, was an essential development in Noise Rock.
A number of Noise Rock bands emerged in North America in the 1980s. These included Caroliner, and Grotus (San Francisco), Big Black (Chicago), Butthole Surfers, The Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid (Texas), The Melvins (Montesano, Washington), Dinosaur Jr. (Massachusetts), Sonic Youth, Live Skull, The Swans, White Zombie, The Thing, Blow 454 and Helmet (New York), Pussy Galore and Royal Trux (Washington DC), among many others.
A similar scene also began to develop in Osaka, Japan, spearheaded by Hanatarash and the Boredoms, the British Shoegaze groups developed an entirely distinct form of Noise Rock, largely derived from the so-called "noise pop" related genre.
Some "Math Rock" / Mathcore groups like Don Caballero are also considered Noise Rock.
The 1980s Noise Rock bands were significant influences on Nirvana and Hole. The Powerviolence scene was close to Noise Rock, with Man Is the Bastard eventually dissolving into unstructured noise music.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Providence became the center of a new crop of Noise Rock bands, largely a product of the RISD scene.
After 2000, Noise Rock groups formed all over the world. Post 2000 Noise Rock often features tribal polyrhythmic drum patterns. Noise Rock groups that formed after 2010 include Roomrunner, Dope Body, Nü Sensae, METZ, Disappears, Dumb Numbers, as well as new Japanese acts such as Nisennenmondai.
Thurston Moore Said
“Noise has taken the place of Punk Rock. People who play noise have no aspiration to become part of mainstream culture. Punk has been co-opted, and subterranean noise music and the Avant-Garde Folk scene have replaced it."
The origins of Noise Rock are rooted in Rock songs featuring extremely dissonant sounds and electronic feedback.
Underground Rock / Protopunk musicians such as the Stooges, The Velvet Underground, and the MC5 incorporated elements of Free Jazz and minimalism, notably The Velvet Underground's self-titled debut and their second album, White Light/White Heat, which incorporated free musicianship and drone sounds.
More obscure musicians, such as The Monks, San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose, and Japan's Les Rallizes Dénudés, also incorporated the effects of dissonance. German Krautrock bands were also significant influences on noise rock, most notably CAN and Faust.
The New York No Wave scene, featuring such artists as Mars and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, which began to coalesce in 1978, was also an essential development in Noise Rock.
While No Wave included a variety of Post Punk, experimental tendencies, with different groups incorporating elements of Free Jazz, Soul, and Disco into their performance, the most abrasive groups would find their innovations streamlined into Noise Rock tradition. Chrome, from San Francisco, produced their own style of Psychedelic Punk that shared some common ground with the No Wave groups. Australian Noise Rock also developed in the late 1970s.
A number of Noise Rock bands emerged from many different scenes in North America in the 1980s. These included Caroliner, and Grotus (San Francisco), Big Black (Chicago), Butthole Surfers, The Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid (Texas), The Melvins (Montesano, Washington), Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Live Skull, The Swans, White Zombie, The Thing, and Helmet (New York), Pussy Galore and Royal Trux (Washington DC), among many others. These bands were initially referred to as "pigfuck" by Robert Christgau, in a reference to Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, though the increasingly melodic tendencies of many of these groups quickly rendered the tag misleading. The Minneapolis label Amphetamine Reptile released a great deal of music in this tradition.
Many of these bands went on to temper the initial ferocity and amelodicism of their approach. IAO Core covered (and were influenced by) The Stranglers, Sonic Youth spoke highly of The Beatles, Pussy Galore covered (and were influenced by) The Rolling Stones, Black Flag drew inspiration from Black Sabbath, and the Butthole Surfers worked with John Paul Jones and emulated Jimi Hendrix.
Beginning in 1986, the British group Napalm Death created "Grindcore" by melding the Noise Rock of The Swans with Hardcore Punk and Death Metal. While later Grindcore groups tended to move in the direction of Death Metal, American bands such as Anal Cunt continued in an extremely dissonant, freeform vein.
A similar scene also began to develop in Osaka, Japan, spearheaded by Hanatarash and the Boredoms, who composed extremely short, fast "songs", marked by blasts of rhythm (reflecting an influence from Grindcore), screaming, and overloaded guitars. Boredoms singer Yamantaka Eye also worked with the New York City Jazzcore group Naked City. The Boredoms eventually evolved towards a far more meditative sound, taking inspiration from Krautrock. Gore Beyond Necropsy, Ground Zero, Zeni Geva, Guitar Wolf, and Melt-Banana extended the Japanese Noise Rock style. These bands also reflected the impact of the Japanoise scene pioneered by Merzbow.
The British Shoegaze groups developed an entirely distinct form of Noise Rock, largely derived from the so-called noise pop related genre. Taking equal inspiration from the dream Pop groups, in addition to aggressive rock like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Telescopes and Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine produced a warm, feminine, but also dissonant, formless and psychedelic genre that belongs in the Noise Rock tradition.
The 1980s Noise Rock bands were significant influences on Nirvana and Hole, and as a result had some mainstream currency during the period when Grunge was played on the radio. Nirvana's album In Utero is particularly evident in its debts to 1980s Noise Rock, and was produced by Big Black frontman and Noise Rock icon Steve Albini. Industrial Metal groups, such as Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and White Zombie, were also indebted to Noise Rock.
In 1992, Melt-Banana started in Japan, afterwards being picked up by John Zorn and Steve Albini and became a known act in Europe and the United States at the end of the nineties and a famous example of ultra fast noise rock. In France, Diabologum experimented with a mixture of dadaist collages and noisy rock. English power electronics band Ramleh also started to experiment with rock music structures in the early 1990s, laying foundation for "improvisational noise rock."
The Powerviolence scene was close to Noise Rock, with Man Is the Bastard eventually dissolving into unstructured noise music. The Locust also picked up from Man Is The Bastard and created a synth-driven Powerviolence sound they have taken to a more noise drone on their latest album New Erections. Contemporaneous groups like Neurosis and Today Is the Day began to blend Noise Rock with Extreme Heavy Metal. Many of the resulting innovations have been incorporated by the more experimental practitioners of Metalcore, such as Converge, Botch, and Dillinger Escape Plan.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Providence became the center of a new crop of Noise Rock bands, largely a product of the RISD scene. These groups tended to owe less to traditional Rock song structures, and were more minimal and drone-like. These included Lightning Bolt, Arab on Radar, Six Finger Satellite, and Pink and Brown. Black Dice were originally part of this scene, but moved to Brooklyn, where they aligned themselves with groups like Gang Gang Dance. As journalist Marc Masters puts it, these groups "trafficked in a kind of art school version of 90's scum rock, mixing in overloaded effects, damaged electronics, and gimmicks like masks and in-mouth mics." These groups were also related, in part, to the San Diego scene that emerged from screamo, most famously The Locust, and to Wolf Eyes, from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Noise Rock also spread into the American South with bands such as the Ed Kemper Trio from Montgomery, Alabama. Heavily influenced by the sound of SST and Touch and Go, Ed Kemper Trio was the focus of the 2004 documentary People Will Eat Anything. Harry Pussy and To Live and Shave in L.A. formed in the early 1990s in Miami, Florida.
In Finland the band Radiopuhelimet that came out of the ashes of the experimental Hardcore Punk band Kansanturvamusiikkikomissio in the late 1980s had some small-time international recognition when they released a compilation EP called Hygiene on Alternative Tentacles records.
After 2000, Noise Rock groups formed all over the world. These included mclusky, Scarling, Black Dice, An Albatross, Deerhunter, The Death Set, Oneida, Parts and Labor, Fuck Buttons, Indian Jewelry, Yuck, Health, Neptune, Fiasco, Aa (Big A Little a), Skeleteen, Girls in Love, Magik Markers, Mohamed UFO, Mindflayer, Part Chimp, Japanther, and Hella. In San Francisco, some of the numerous examples include Deerhoof, Boxleitner, Erase Errata, So So Many White White Tigers, Total Shutdown, Numbers, Crack: We Are Rock, Burmese, and Pink & Brown. More examples of modern Noise Rock bands include No Age and Foot Village based in Los Angeles, Double Dagger, The New Flesh, and Ponytail from Baltimore, The Lowdown from Santa Cruz, The Intelligence from Seattle, Pre, Part Chimp, Male Bonding, and Action Beat from the UK, The Maharajah Commission from Malaysia, Japandroids from Vancouver, and AIDS Wolf from Montreal. In 2007, San Francisco's IAO Core announced that after 23 studio albums, they would only release recordings of their live performances, many of which are ritually located and time or date specific, and often several hours long. Experimental luthier Yuri Landman has experimented with a variety of extended techniques, with instruments created for the benefit of numerous groups in the scene, including Sonic Youth, Lightning Bolt, Liars, and Jad Fair.
The post 2000 Noise Rock often features tribal polyrhythmic drum patterns. Recent bands have carried on older traditions while branching out and furthering their theatrics. Bands such as Comparative Anatomy, Lightning Bolt, and The Locust are known for wearing outlandish costumes.
More recent noise rock that came up past 2010 are Roomrunner, Dope Body, Body/Head, Iceage, Guerilla Toss, Perfect Pussy, Fight Amp, Whores (band) , Grizzlor, Kowloon Walled City, METZ, Dumb Numbers, as well as new Japanese acts such as Nisennenmondai, Akai Kouen (赤い公園?), and ZZZ's.
Aa (Big A Little a)
Akai Kouen (赤い公園?)
A Place to Bury Strangers
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Death from Above 1979
The Death Set
Ed Kemper Trio
Gang Gang Dance
Girls in Love
Gore Beyond Necropsy
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Kowloon Walled City
The Maharajah Commission
The New Flesh
Parts and Labor
Pink & Brown
So So Many White White Tigers
Today Is the Day
We Are Rock
The following is a list of record labels that have been known to specialize in Noise Rock.
Amphetamine Reptile Records
Gold Standard Laboratories