I know that I've been noticeably absent from the blogmosphere lately. Allow me to explain:
I haven't had anything interesting to say in quite some time.
You see, my mind tends to work in a manner that could only really be described as having "an autistic child's focus." Much like that autistic kid that lived up the street from you growing up, my mind is programmed to be a one-track vessel. But instead of simply focusing on trains or vacuum cleaners for the entirety of my life, I have been known to careen back and forth between activities as my mood dictates. For months I was hyperfocused on this blog, my mind a constantly reeling dick joke writing machine. It was all I thought about, and though it is still a powerful presence in my life, my obsessive focus has reoriented itself at my classical guitar, compelling me to put gel in my hair and wear a tuxedo around my apartment while I give concerts to the dishwasher and take standing ovations from reruns of "Malcolm in the Middle."
It is in this frame of mind that I've been rediscovering some of my more pompous musical leanings that I've been neglecting for years. Lately, in between spinning the new Exhumed album or relistening to Rotten Sound's latest offering, there have been appearances from guitarists Uwe Kropinski and Ulf Wakenius, prompting those around me to furrow their brows in befuddlement and engage me in what inevitably ends up as a conversation full of lofty bombast and harmonic analysis that means about as much to them as calculus-based physics questions mean to me. And the only time that I'm not subjecting myself and others around me to my schizophrenic musical tastes is when I put on my ascot and take my fancy dog for a particularly dainty walk.
Me after taking my fancy dog for a dainty walk. Not pictured: my toy poodle, Sylvia.
My attempts to be grandiose and fancy have translated into a certain cognitive dissonance for me, since it's hard to talk a big game about Vladimir Horowitz and his interpretations of Mozart's greatest piano hits or who plays Liszt best when you're sitting around, drinking Seagram's 7 whiskey out of a sippy cut, wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and talking to what you thought was your wife, but turned out to be a stuffed tiger sitting next to you on the couch. I can't believe that I wasted my dissertation on Piazzola's tangos on that damn stuffed tiger! But my capacity for pretension isn't boundless; not at all. Because where there is noise, there is a boundary to my snoot.
I don't get noise. For the uninitiated, noise is an extreme subgenre that basically is what it sounds like; it's one or more guys sitting around with a series of things and making them squall and moan and giving it the John Cage-style label of "acceptable music." Noise is a scourge on the music scene, a tick on the belly of the galloping gazelle of musical culture. Pretension and hipsterism run rampant in the noise scene, where "creating" and "performing" both come in the form of mashing a microphone into a Memory Man delay pedal while looking angry. And my scathing indictment of pretension is not groundless, either. I've got an accredited degree in music, and I've spent more time than I'd like to admit sitting idly around debating the relative merits of jazz music in today's internet-savvy culture, or dabbling in proto-noise by listening to "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" by Krzysztof Penderecki over and over while pretending that I like it.
Or perhaps you'd like to watch me construct some Babbitt Squares?
So being as snooty and pretentious as I am, I'm more than qualified to look down on college age hipster boners who are so in to making noise music. Even as I type this, I'm sitting around in my extra bedroom in a tuxedo, only taking breaks from my pointless tirade against noise to clean my monocle or freshen up my Tom Collins. But noise music is too much for me.
It is this spirit that I'd like to apologize to Today is the Day, and indeed all bands that have been inexplicably saddled with the "noise rock" moniker. Perhaps there are bands that do indeed deserve the "noise" addendum to their genre assignment, but judging by Pain is a Warning, I never had anything to fear from Today is the Day.
What a fool I've been! I feel faint!
I knew that my fears of being subjected to noise annoyances were perfectly unfounded from the moment I put on opening bruiser "Expectations Exceed Reality," and knew that (in my standard fashion) I had put unfair constraints on my listening during the punishing romp that is "Wheelin'," and was sold once and for all with the subsequent "The Devil's Blood" (which is a viable contender for my coveted Song of the Year title, given only to the crunchiest and most punishing jamz. An interesting side note: I've never given this title out to anybody before, so you'll have to stay tuned to see which song reigns supreme in my meaningless opinion). As the album builds ever skyward toward the closing "Samurai," the songs become more and more crushing, Steve Austin's static-laden snarl becomes ever more vicious, the riffs drone ever more hypnotically, and my frenzied punching the air becomes ever more distracting to my coworkers. But if they don't want to be punched by me in a misguided show of enthusiasm for Pain is a Warning, they shouldn't have wandered into the bathroom in the first place.
If you've been missing out on this album like I have, take note that Pain is a Warning is a much more droning and expansive affair compared to earlier works like In the Eyes of God, but works to great effect. Hearing such a powerful effort without having to rely on the standard grindcore practice of being cartoonishly concise is refreshing. This makes me feel a little bit more like a man as I watch my fancy dog prance around my apartment on delicate little paws.
But I still don't like noise.
Addendum: After sampling some of Today is the Day's previous offerings, I can see where the "noise rock" tag comes from. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.