Back in the corner of your music appreciation room sits a lonely child playing with her chest hair & trumpets. Not many pay attention to this child, to the child's delight, but there are some who find pleasure in the sounds of the back corner. eye am juan.
If you aren't familiar, i throw a quick definition: noise is music minus the "rules" of music, though many in the corner find it fun to insert a sniff of melody, a pounding that reminds of rhythm, or voice whaling New Bedford.
The noise scene, however, has long been dominated by those enthralled with imagery most originally conjured in the late '70s by the band Throbbing Gristle, who were most interested in shining their light on the underside of society, and did their best to articulate the hypocrisy they saw through the display of crime scene footage, disections, and other visions of darkness during their performances. 30 years down the road, this display by lesser acts than Throbbing Gristle is, to put it mildly, tired. Actually, its been tired for at least 20 years. i can't tell how many performances i've seen where someone dressed in black (what else?) sits in front of a audience tinkering with obscure dials on a box while video footage is projected of napalm attack victims or some kitten having its tummy removed by a pit bull. yawn.
There are, of course, exceptions. Crank Sturgeon is an artist who's been performing since the mid 90's, but on a path that expands the definition of what "noise" is to include not just the sounds of noise but the phenomenal noise that exists between things that were never intended to be put together. In this sense noise deals with the space between rather than the objects themselves, and so favors the medium of space and sound as its primary voice. But the Crank version of noise includes not just the sonic, not just the sound of his homemade instruments and contact mic's, but the visual as well. Crank Sturgeon performances are as much vaudeville as rock show, infused as they are with humor, irreverence, comment, and intelligence. A summary, i think, of all that noise should lay claim to, but so rarely does.
His most recent performance was at the annual Sacred and Profane festival held at Peaks Island, Maine, in a concrete military bunker originally constructed to protect the east coast during WWII. From the roof of the bunker, Crank suspended an airplane of sorts, sheathed in cardboard homeless signs, many donated by the homeless of Portland, of which there are many during this distressed time. His sad plane swung back and forth, teetering and twirling, going nowhere, and sounding many a sputter as he sang a song of our world, and showed to all the unmistakable state of things. That this performance was set in a military hall was all the more poignant, given the obscene excess of our military spending while so many do with so little.