China News - April 21, 1995
Churning out noise music
April 21, 1995
|The first track on the
Taiwanese label Noise's latest release is "Bel-Phegor. Live at Fuzzyland"
by multinational outfit Poo Poo Bomb. It's a cacophony of harsh sounds
with no perceptible rhythm or melody, like the white noise from empty radio
frequency layered with the sound of a broken synthesizer being thrown down
a set of stairs.
The second track. "Stuff Her Full of Razorblades" by the Texas-based band Taint, is much the same.
So is the third track.
In fact, if you're patient enough to listen to all 28 tracks on this two-cassette compilation, you'll find both contains more of the same. It's enough to make you wonder if there's something wrong with your stereo.
Don't bother checking, there's nothing wrong. You're turning into the sound of Noise, the tiny, do-it-yourself record label run by two twentysomethings, Fujui Wang and Anes Kuo.
With the exception of their first release, none of the married couple's efforts have sold more than 200 copies, and only a minute portion of these are sold in Taiwan. However, this doesn't bother them.
You see, they're not in it for the money.
"You could say this is a learning process," Wang Said.
Though they look surprisingly ordinary (no combat boots, spiked hair or pierced noses), and they are polite and mild, both Wang and Kuo are die-hard fans of a type of in-your-face music that is the closest thing there is to recorded violence.
Since they graduated from college about two years ago, Wang and Kuo have been using their label's name is recognized throughout the small international network of fans of the genre.
Wang, who works full time as a computer programmer, first broke out of the mainstream in high school, where he began listening to Joy Division and other obscure bands that were brought to his attention by Taiwan label Crystal Records, That music, supplemented with extensive reading of underground and alternative magazines from the US and Japan, slowly drew him into the realm of experimental noise.
By the time he was in college, he and Kuo began producing a magazine, appropriately entitled "Noise," to spread the gospel of this form of artistic expression. In the process of writing articles for the quartely journal, they began contacting artists and record retailers directly so they could delve deeper into the scene.
In 1993, Japanese noise artists The Gerogerigegege contacted the two and asked them if they'd be interested in pressing their CD. They jumped at the chance, invested NT$30,000 to NT$40,000 in its production, and made 500 copies.
They sold out - mostly to specialized record stores in Japan, the Unites States and Europe. They didn't make any money, but then again they didn't lose any either.
This experience proved to them that they hoby of theirs and not go bankrupt.
Wang and Kuo are their own designers, publishers, manufactures and distributors of each of their products. Each cassette is recorded from a master tape (usually on DAT) one by one on their home stereo system. The packaging is cut and pasted by hand, the graphics done on Wang's computer.
The finished products is visually impressive. They have foregone the grainy photocopied look you'd expect from a DIY product for a sleek, modern design reminiscent of the sparse artsiness of labels such as Factory or 4AD.
The sound quality isn't top notch, but given the cacophonous nature of the music contained within, it is adequate.
Their "factory" is their home in Mucha, where the tapes are assembled according to demand. For instance, if a record company in the States wants 10 copies of The Haters' Silent Shovels Smashing Sut or Macronympha's Naked Denunciation of Infrasonic Exchange, they just make'em.
With the exception of releases by local noise artists Z.S.L.O. and a tape they made for expatriate musician Jobi Kobi, Wang and Kuo have never met any of the artists whose albums they have released. Most of the artists are from Japan or the West and offer already mastered tapes to Noise for local production, with no strings attached. They pay no royalities to the artists, but send them a few complimentary copies of the finished product.
In the global community of noise artists, this is not uncommon, and that's part of what makes the scene so unique.
Wang and Kuo have no ambition to become a huge record label, or even a financially successful independent. They already know that there just aren't a lot of people out there who want to listen to waht they're offering. They merely want to bring something new to the world of music.
That's not say that they detest everything that's out there already. On the contrary, they are also quick to point out that they listen to and appreciate almost all styles of music.
Wang was a bit at a loss to explain noise music or its appeal, other than to say that it offers people another listening choice and that it reflects the cacophony of modern inner-city life. But as already established masters of te genre, they aim to continue along the path they have been traveling on.
"We do this because it makes us happy," Wang said. "Some people like to play sports, others like to go see movies. We like to do this."