[14 May 2012]
John Cage once said, “I was at a concert of electronic music in Cologne and I noticed that, even though it was the most recent electronic music, the audience was all falling asleep. No matter how interesting the music was, the audience couldn’t stay awake. That was because the music was coming out of loudspeakers.” It’s a quote that’s haunted me and left a nagging doubt about any form of electronic music—except noise.
Noise has often struck me as the truest, most uninhibited form of expression in music. There’s a certain underlying connection to pure creation that’s more prevalent and apparent in the music that’s created from other forms because, outside of genre generalization, its harder to be significantly influenced by any particular artist. Yes, someone can dabble in field recordings or take to leafing through Sonic Youth’s early pages and use tunings that were considered evil by medieval churches but largely, by accepting virtually anything, comes the possibility of integrating untapped notes. Any time those can be manipulated into something structured and offer some semblance of melody, it becomes easy to be fascinated. This is something that Tomat understands to the fullest and litters 01-06 June with.
Taking a decidedly dark turn, Tomat immediately engulfs this record in ambient washes and strange effects. Fortunately, he also proves to be a talented vocalist and, more importantly, his vocals fit the music, completely. It’s a rare combination that doesn’t happen entirely too often but when it does, it can become fairly easily apparent that what your hearing is more than just music, but the fullest realization of personality. Very rarely do music and vocals intersect as fully as they do here, becoming two entities that get increasingly harder to separate from one another. That alone acts as one of 01-06 June‘s greatest victories. Another one of its strengths is its fearlessness. A lot of what’s contained in this record can turn from relatively pleasant to instantly jarring, like the cut-outs in “Radio”, which are total drops more effective than any bass drop you’re likely to hear in any bro-step song.
Then there’s songs like “Donaticomet”, the nine and a half minute third track that rides the same drone wave for its entirety while casually building upon it in the latter half. That’s not something normally heard on a debut. To be that abrasive, that soon, is as audacious as it is ambitious. Most of 01-06 June carries on in that fashion, often providing fascinating cuts of lengthy proportions, but that leads to most peoples biggest concern with noise music; fascination or appreciation versus genuine enjoyment. While certainly, there’s a lot of this record that can be enjoyed on the same basic level as a great pop song (like the bouncing, jittery “Lovelyplace”), it often veers off into territory that begins to require the listener to deconstruct it and come to their own individual realizations of why its either great or it isn’t. It’s a moment that perfectly encapsulates the overall artistry of noise music.
At 11 tracks, 01-06 June is a dense record, overflowing with ideas. Fortunately, they’re mostly good ones, and while Tomat does take the listener to the edge more than once and constantly tests their patience, what he’s delivered here is an album that’s difficult to forget. Ultimately, that memorability can be an artist’s greatest triumph because of impact. No matter how you feel about Metal Machine Music, it’s still a record that’s discussed to this day. While 01-06 June certainly isn’t Metal Machine Music and will likely never garner that much intense hatred or notoriety, it may be destined to become a curiosity that elevates itself to cult favorite in years to come. It’s far too early to tell now. All we can do is sit back and enjoy a genuinely fascinating debut from a fairly exciting new artist who’s provided us with some conversation-starting music that’s pretty damn good.