During the fall and winter of 2012, I interviewed members of a burgeoning experimental sound collective in Oakland, California. The collection of sound artists, noise musicians and experimental tinkerers wanted to cooperatively manage a venue that would act as both performance and work space, while remaining under the radar of mainstream concert listings to retain a truly “underground” feel. My coverage on the formation of the West Oakland Noise Collective, “No Names, More Noise” was published in the East Bay Express on January 16, 2013. Excerpt follows:
“Tropes like amplified feedback and mechanical sounds are elemental in noise, but are equally important in punk and industrial music. But really, noise is the constant “other” — sound that doesn’t fit into an obvious pattern of significance, and plays with our ability to find meaning in what we hear. What follows, in an obtuse genre with a huge focus on mechanical manipulation, are live performances with expansive potentials even when they border on absurd or risk alienating an audience. It’s not uncommon for acts to choose to remain anonymous (members of local [Oakland] outfit Styrofoam Sanchez wear cubic styrofoam structures on their heads), while others perform sitting down or entirely eclipsed in fog. Because the Bay Area has a relatively small community for experimental music, performers can stagnate in a too-familiar scene. A co-founder of Ratskin Records, an Oakland experimental music label since 2005, Mike D (who also performs in Styrofoam Sanchez) thinks the collective format could combat this effect.”
Read the full piece here.