San Diego Symphony's second night of the Masterworks season showcased the power of place and personality
Garrett Harris noon, Oct. 13
Sound description: Experimental psych noise
RIYL: High Mountain Tempel, Hawkwind, Philip Glass, C.C.C.C., Astro/Hiroshi Hasegawa
Influences: High Mountain Tempel, C.C.C.C., Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Robert Rich, Terry Riley, Lustmord, Phillip K. Dick, Arthur Rimbaud, H.P. Lovecraft, Hawkwind, Amon Duul II, progressive "kraut rock"
“The key components of psych-noise are freedom of volume and composition,” explains Eric Nielsen, one half of the local experimental duo Buzz or Howl. “It’s an emotive attack on your whole body with volume, so loud that it’s not uncommon to have an out-of-body experience in a swirling cloud of intense volume.”
“Once in western Japan I was at a show that was so loud I had to lift my shoulders to my ears. I was in terrible pain, but it was impolite to get up and leave. After about 15 minutes, I completely forgot about the music, relaxed, and went into a deep contemplation. I awoke sometime later to be aware of the sound and sights and was amazed I had experienced this vision triggered by this improbable sound.”
Nielsen says the local psych noise scene includes bands like Earthless and Riververb. “The godfathers of the sound, like Mainliner and AMT, play the Casbah, and other acts are playing the Ken Club and the Ché Café…the Thirsty Moon record store sells a lot of this stuff.”
“It seems as the Casbah musicians get older, there is more interesting and experimental music being made in this town.”
Nielsen's Buzz or Howl partner Bruce McKenzie explains how the band came to record the collaboration album Western Mystery School. “We met famed Japanese psych noise artist Astro through a mutual friend...plans were hatched to combine forces with him somehow.”
Astro — aka Hiroshi Hasegawa — is best known for his stint with C.C.C.C., alongside occasional bondage porn star Mayuko Hino, notorious for throwing plastic bags of urine at audiences.
“She performed with Hiroshi when we played with them at the UFO Club in Tokyo in 2005,” says Nielsen. “She quietly did her thing while the loudest sounds I have ever heard emanated from the stage. The whole room shook, the support beams shook, the bathroom shook, and the sound man had to fan the board with his Japanese fan, wearing his wooden sandals.”
Eric Nielsen and Bruce McKenzie have another band, Maquiladora, which has worked with the Japanese act Acid Mothers Temple and the band Mus, from Spain. The duo also has a project called Beggars, whose debut 2-CD release came out on the Lotushouse label in early 2013, and Nielsen also fronts High Mountain Tempel.