Noise music can be accessible and inclusive, as Denver Noise Fest proved
Denver Noise Fest is now one of the biggest of its kind in the country. And it isn't just harsh noise. The lineup did not just feature circuit-bending academics. The Festival was a celebration of a love for weird noises, by a wide-ranging group of generous artists.
Tom Murphy Mark Hosler of Negativland at Denver Noise Fest V at Rhinoceropolis
The headliner for the night, Mark Hosler of Negativland, played a solo set. He wove layered atmospheres with tones that sounded like called to mind the way air bubbles look in an aquarium. People were riveted by his relatively short set, enjoying Hosler's playful manipulation of the sound. He was visibly pleased with how the improv experiments were going. It was an expression of the sheer joy in using raw sound to create something musical outside of the mundane usual.
Months ago, Denver Noise Fest organizer John Gross publicly solicited suggestions for female noise artists and received many. The festival was richer for it, featuring several acts from the long-standing New Mexico noise community.
Tom Murphy Mesa Ritual at Denver Noise Fest V at Rhinoceropolis
And what was striking about the assembled crowd was that it wasn't just a bunch of guys at the show. That happens a lot at noise shows. And metal shows. And some hardcore shows. It could just be the growing popularity of noise and truly experimental music generally, but it seems that the booking of the festival and the artists involved helped create a more welcome vibe to the event.
Tom Murphy Bigawatt at Denver Noise Fest V at Rhinoceropolis
Some of the artists later in the evening might have been considered more what one might expect at a noise show, but in each case, the specific artists gave something to even people that aren't versed in this type of sound art. Mesa Ritual gave a powerful electronics performance -- its ebb and flow of sound, while difficult to discern was not just an outburst of sound feeding back. Bigawatt took some of the tropes of harsh noise and made it into something fun and not just punishing , sustained flashes of distorted white noise and sculpted feedback. Granted, a lot of this stuff took place in the dark, but every band benefitted from VJ Dizy Pixl's projections. They were so evocative and vivid yet subtle in a way that enhanced the music.