> THEATRICAL ASPECTS OF NOISE – THE NEW BLOCKADERS (Glissando #21)
The following is an excerpt from an article about the theatrical aspects of Noise which appeared in Glissando # 21 (2013) entitled, ‘Even the electricity being cut and the venue collapsing (which is a quote from the article itself):
Do TNB use elements of theatre like movement, gestures, or dance and, if so, is it planned or spontaneous?
There is movement, but purely in a functional sense. Terms like ‘theatre’ or ‘gesture’ imply something false or contrived or (worse still) something ‘artistic’ which we reject completely. There’s a misconception in certain quarters that the black suits and masks are worn as a pantomime costume or are designed to intimidate which is not the case. It’s strictly an exercise in anonymity and to remove the idea of a personality, and consequently expectation, from the event.
Everything you see and hear is directed and completely spontaneous. This may sound like a contradiction, but both states can exist simultaneously and cancel one another, neither composed or improvised, both of which are largely musical or artistic constructs which we have no interest in. Time passes, events occur.
To what extent, if any, does the environment / venue dictate a performance? What are its limitations? Do you ever feel tempted to go outside that territory?
This is a difficult question as TNB largely shaped what is considered ‘noise music’ today while not actually sounding anything like the scene it helped to spawn. Most Noise musicians (Noisicians) now are just that; musicians – using the same old hackneyed cliches of volume, dramatic preconceived performance moves and professionalism for career advancement that have been around since the dawn of Rock & Roll (and before, no doubt.)
TNB operate completely in the area of non-music; there is no pretence or allusion to music or art at any stage, all of this is rejected. In this way there is no territory and consequently, no limitations.
Obviously most established music venues are laid out in a similar fashion with a stage area where the performers are kept visibly or physically separate from the audience. TNB generally have no interest in observing this distinction as it’s how traditional ‘music’ or ‘theatre’ is demarcated; clearly anything which is a throwback to these situations is not of any interest. Therefore, TNB regard all areas of the room and indeed the fabric of the building itself as fair game; the floor, the walls, the structural supports, found objects and so forth can (and generally are) incorporated into the proceedings. No limitations. In the past, found items have included garbage-container lids, washing machine parts, knitting needles, newspapers, Pop music cassettes, broken amplifiers, air-raid early warning system parts, cutlery, broken furniture, glass and on one occasion a plaster statue of a famous Classical music composer who watched over the proceedings.
It would therefore be fairly impossible to go outside of this territory as it has no real definition to start with once the old music hall rules have been dispensed with. Even the electricity being cut and the venue collapsing would mean we could carry on acoustically using the rubble as a sound source.
What is the role of the audience at a show? Does the presence of an audience influence the performance?
TNB ‘performances’ happen despite the audience, rather than being influenced by them. Stages have been invaded by audience members getting carried away by the proceedings, venue sound personnel have cut power to PA systems, equipment forcibly unplugged and so on; the proceedings carry on regardless as volume is not always the end-game. Silence is often far more interesting.
TNB ‘performances’ have also happened without any audience whatsoever, in private, or publicly cancelled only to go ahead anyway. There’s a rejection of anything that could be perceived as an ‘art event’ or ‘Rock & Roll show’ which most audiences are still looking for despite their declarations of being ‘avant garde’ and so forth. TNB offer no ‘polished’ performances, no personality, no content, no bravado, no beginning, no end.