John Wiese - Soft Punk

2007; Troubleman Unlimited; Los Angeles, CA

there comes a point when the inciting motive is no longer why you continue. When you realize that the punks are no longer in it because they're angry and misunderstood, that the hippies are no longer using drugs to induce a spiritual experience, now they're just using them to get high. And that's something I had to confront when listening to John Wiese, because lets be honest here, he doesn't extract the same passionate emotional response that Wolf Eyes does, nor the fierce irreverence and protest of no-wave. He doesn't intoxicate like Magik Markers or Yellow Swans. I came to straight noise music because I was angry in a way that no other music could capture, which is not something that Soft Punk does to any great extent. So I have to fess up and say that the passion and the emotion is no longer the sole reason why I'm here, that it is possible that I actually just like this stuff. I've gone from someone searching for help to somewhat of a fetishist. and that kind of scares me, it should.

Soft Punk begins with thirty four seconds of manipulated static that twitches and jumps for lost moments and then a steady clicking beat as if someone was teasing the drum mics, and then all hell breaks loose.... or, wait, no it doesn't. or well it doesn't quite make it. the music scratches its head, turns round and gives it another go. and, well, just misses once again. And thats the brilliance of this pink lp, it doesn't give you what you want, it keeps you on your toes. While Wolf Eyes traffics in a gloriously self-indulgent growl, giving everything they've and then some, yelling until they pass out from their lack of inhalation, Wiese brings the listener to a point just before orgasm, and then pulls out. And so for the forty-four minutes of the album we are constantly left unsatisfied, anxiously waiting for the next turn to fulfill us. And before you know it the forty-four minutes are up. And you want to listen again. And this, I'll be quite honest, is not something that can be said about any other noise full length that has ever existed - that it passes without exhausting you or loosing your interest.

Of course besides for the dynamic make-up of the disc there is a lot to keep you paying attention. While pioneers like Merzbow traffic in long drones of ear-splitting sound, Wiese goes the other way. He delivers a glitchy sampled brand of high-fidelity noise that never stays still for more than a few seconds, switching off between the kind of growl and broken glass that you'd expect from works of this genre and more pulsing subconscious ambiance. It's just never what you expect.

And so it's not hard for me to say that Soft Punk is the best noise album I've ever herd, and perhaps that I just need to come to terms with my enjoyment of the genre as a whole. I mean, it might not be that spiritual anymore, but at least I'm getting high.

no fun

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