|Metal Machine Music|
|Studio album by|
|Lou Reed chronology|
Metal Machine Music (subtitled *The Amine β Ring) is the fifth studio album by American rock musician Lou Reed, released as a double album in July 1975 by RCA Records. A departure from the rest of his catalog, the album features no songs or even recognizably structured compositions, eschewing melody and rhythm for modulated feedback and guitar effects, mixed at varying speeds by Reed. In the album's liner notes, Reed claimed to have invented heavy metal, and asserted that Metal Machine Music was the ultimate conclusion of the genre.
The album cost Reed credibility in the music industry while simultaneously opening the door for some of his later, more experimental material. Although reviewed negatively by critics since its release, Metal Machine Music is today considered a forerunner of industrial music, noise rock, and contemporary sound art.In 2010, Reed, Ulrich Krieger, and Sarth Calhoun collaborated to tour playing free improvisation inspired by the album as Metal Machine Trio. In 2011, Reed re-released a remaster of Metal Machine Music.
A major influence on Reed's recording was the mid-1960s drone music work of La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music,whose members included John Cale, Tony Conrad, Angus MacLise and Marian Zazeela. Both Cale and MacLise were also members of the Velvet Underground. (MacLise left before the group began recording.)
The Theatre of Eternal Music's discordant sustained notes and loud amplification had influenced Cale's subsequent contribution to the Velvet Underground in his use of both discordance and feedback. Recent releases of works by Cale and Conrad from the mid-sixties, such as Cale's Inside the Dream Syndicate series (The Dream Syndicate being the alternative name given by Cale and Conrad to their collective work with Young) testify to the influence this mid-sixties experimental work had on Reed years later.
In an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs, Reed stated that he "had also been listening to Xenakis a lot." (Bangs, 186) He also claimed that he had intentionally placed sonic allusions to classical works such as Beethoven's Eroica and Pastoral Symphonies in the distortion, and that he had attempted to have the album released on RCA's Red Seal classical label. He repeated the latter claim in a 2007 interview.
|Christgau's Record Guide||C+|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|
Metal Machine Music confounded reviewers and listeners when it was first released. The Stranger 's Dave Segal later claimed it was one of the most divisive records ever, challenging both critics and the artist's core audience much in the same way Miles Davis' Agharta album would around the same time.
On release, it was reviewed in Rolling Stone magazine as sounding like "the tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator" and as displeasing to experience as "a night in a bus terminal".In the 1979 Rolling Stone Record Guide , critic Billy Altman said it was "a two-disc set consisting of nothing more than ear-wrecking electronic sludge, guaranteed to clear any room of humans in record time". (This aspect of the album is mentioned in the Bruce Sterling short story "Dori Bangs".) The first issue of the seminal New York zine Punk placed Reed and the album on its inaugural 1976 issue, presaging the advent of both punk and the discordance of the New York No Wave scene. Reed biographer Victor Bockris wrote that the recording can be understood as "the ultimate conceptual punk album and the progenitor of New York punk rock". The album was ranked number two in the 1991 book The Worst Rock 'n' Roll Records of All Time by Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell.
Village Voice critic Robert Christgau referred to Metal Machine Music as Reed's "answer to Environments " and said it had "certainly raised consciousness in both the journalistic and business communities" and was not "totally unlistenable", though he admitted for white noise he would rather listen to "Sister Ray". 's 50 worst albums of all-time list. It was again featured in Q in December 2010, on the magazine's "Top Ten Career Suicides" list, where it came eighth overall. The Trouser Press Record Guide referred to it as "four sides of unlistenable oscillator noise", parenthetically calling that assessment "a description, not a value judgment". Mark Deming's review for AllMusic noted that while noise rock groups "have created some sort of context for it", Metal Machine Music "hasn't gotten any more user friendly with time", given it "paus[ed] only for side breaks with no rhythms, melodies, or formal structures to buffer the onslaught".Writing in MusicHound Rock (1999), Greg Kot gave the album a "woof!" rating (signifying "dog-food"), and opined: "The spin cycle of a washing machine has more melodic variation than the electronic drone that was Metal Machine Music." In 2005, Q magazine included the album in a list of "Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists", and it ranked number four in Q
Rock critic Lester Bangs, offering a more sympathetic appraisal of Metal Machine Music than most critics, wrote that "as classical music it adds nothing to a genre that may well be depleted. As rock 'n' roll it's interesting garage electronic rock 'n' roll. As a statement it's great, as a giant FUCK YOU it shows integrity—a sick, twisted, dunced-out, malevolent, perverted, psychopathic integrity, but integrity nevertheless." Bangs later wrote a tongue-in-cheek article on Metal Machine Music titled "The Greatest Album Ever Made", in which he judged it "the greatest record ever made in the history of the human eardrum".In 1998, The Wire included Metal Machine Music in its list of "100 Records That Set the World on Fire (While No One Was Listening)," with Brian Duguid writing:
Q magazine featured Metal Machine Music in its 50 Worst Records of All Time ... What higher recommendation could you possibly need? ... [Metal Machine Music] is at once the pre-eminent deranged noise record, an impossibly cacophonous screech of electric torment, and also a classic of Minimalism; some of the most enigmatic, exquisite harmonies ever documented. It's a pity the CD reissues can't include the original double LP's locked groove, but even if it doesn't last forever, the music is infinitely convoluted. It still awaits a proper critical reappraisal—even the gleefully enthusiastic Lester Bangs didn't fully 'get' Metal Machine Music.
In a December 2017 review, Mark Richardson of Pitchfork gave Metal Machine Music a score of 8.7 out of 10. He describes the album as an "exhilarating" listen.
Despite the intense criticism (or perhaps because of the exposure it generated), Metal Machine Music reportedly sold 100,000 copies in the US, according to the liner notes of the Buddah Records CD issue. The original edition was withdrawn within three weeks of its release.
Lou Reed did not perform Metal Machine Music on stage until March 2002, when he collaborated with an avant-garde classical ensemble at the MaerzMusik festival in Berlin, Germany. The 10-member group Zeitkratzer performed the original album with Reed in a new arrangement by Ulrich Krieger, featuring classical string, wind, piano, and accordion.Live recordings with (2007) and without (2014; all-acoustic) Reed are available commercially.
A few years later, Reed formed a band named Metal Machine Trio as a noise rock/experimental side project.
On the original vinyl release, timings for sides 1–3 were stated as "16:01", while the 4th side read "16:01 or ∞", as the last groove on the LP was a continuous loop, known as the locked groove. On CD, this locked groove was imitated for the final 2:22 of the track, fading out at the end.
Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs was an American music journalist, critic, author, and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and was known for his leading influence in rock music criticism. The music critic Jim DeRogatis called him "America's greatest rock critic".
Lewis Allan Reed was an American musician, singer, songwriter and poet. He was the guitarist, singer and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet Underground and had a solo career that spanned five decades. The Velvet Underground was not a commercial success during its existence, but became regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of underground and alternative rock music.
The Velvet Underground & Nico is the debut album by American rock band the Velvet Underground and German singer Nico, released in March 1967 by Verve Records. It was recorded in 1966 while the band were featured on Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour. The album features experimental performance sensibilities and controversial lyrical topics, including drug abuse, prostitution, sadomasochism and sexual deviancy. It sold poorly and was mostly ignored by contemporary critics, but later became regarded as one of the most influential albums in the history of popular music.
Noise music is a category of music that is characterised by the expressive use of noise within a musical context. This type of music tends to challenge the distinction that is made in conventional musical practices between musical and non-musical sound. Noise music includes a wide range of musical styles and sound-based creative practices that feature noise as a primary aspect.
John Davies Cale, OBE is a Welsh musician, composer, singer, songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of the American rock band the Velvet Underground. Over his five-decade career, Cale has worked in various styles across rock, drone, classical, avant-garde and electronic music.
The Marble Index is the second solo album and third studio album by German musician Nico, which was released in November 1968 on Elektra Records. The avant-garde sound introduced in the album—a stark contrast with her folk pop debut, Chelsea Girl—was the result of the combination of Nico's droning harmonium and somber vocals, and producer John Cale's musical arrangements, which were inspired by modern European classical music. Nico envisioned the release as an attempt to get artistic legitimacy, thus also drastically changing the looks that had initially made her famous as a fashion model.
The Velvet Underground is the self-titled third studio album by American rock band the Velvet Underground. Released in March 1969, it was their first record with Doug Yule, who was a replacement for John Cale. Recorded in 1968 at TTG Studios in Hollywood, California, the album's sound—consisting largely of ballads and straightforward rock songs—marked a notable shift in style from the band's previous recordings. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album number 314 in their list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2012, the rank was updated to album number 316. It was voted number 262 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).
White Light/White Heat is the second studio album by American rock band the Velvet Underground, released in 1968 by record label Verve. It was the band's last studio recording of new material with bassist and founding member John Cale.
The Stooges is the eponymous debut studio album by American rock band the Stooges, released on August 5, 1969 by Elektra Records. Considered a landmark proto-punk release, the album peaked at number 106 on the US Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. The songs "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "1969" were released as singles from the album; "1969" was featured on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs" at number 35.
Drone music, drone-based music, or simply drone, is a minimalist genre that emphasizes the use of sustained sounds, notes, or tone clusters – called drones. It is typically characterized by lengthy audio programs with relatively slight harmonic variations throughout each piece. La Monte Young, one of its 1960s originators, defined it in 2000 as "the sustained tone branch of minimalism".
Squeeze is the fifth and final studio album released by The Velvet Underground. Released in 1973 by Polydor Records, it features no members of the Lou Reed-era group other than multi-instrumentalist Doug Yule, who wrote and recorded the album almost entirely by himself. Yule had joined the Velvet Underground prior to recording their self-titled third album, replacing founding member John Cale, and had contributed significantly to the fourth album, Loaded. Following the departures of the remaining founding members, Yule took control of the band. Longtime drummer Maureen Tucker was slated to appear on Squeeze by Yule, but she was dismissed by the band's manager, Steve Sesnick.
"Sister Ray" is a song by the Velvet Underground that closes side two of their 1968 album White Light/White Heat. The lyrics are by Lou Reed, with music composed by John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker and Reed.
"Heroin" is a song by the Velvet Underground, released on their 1967 debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico. Written by Lou Reed in 1964, the song, which overtly depicts heroin use and abuse, is one of the band's most celebrated compositions. Critic Mark Deming of Allmusic writes, "While 'Heroin' hardly endorses drug use, it doesn't clearly condemn it, either, which made it all the more troubling in the eyes of many listeners."
The Bells is the ninth solo studio album by American musician Lou Reed, released in April 1979 by Arista Records. It is recorded in binaural sound. Several songs on the album are the product of a short-lived writing partnership between Reed and Nils Lofgren. Other of the team's work appeared on Nils' eponymous album of the same year.
New York in the 1960s: Sun Blindness Music, better known as Sun Blindness Music, is an album by John Cale released in 2001. It is the first of a loose anthology of experimental albums recorded during Cale's tenure with the Theatre of Eternal Music during the mid-1960s.
The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City in 1964 by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise. The band was initially active between 1965 and 1973, and was briefly managed by the pop artist Andy Warhol, serving as the house band at the Factory and Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable events from 1966 to 1967. Their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, was released in 1967 to critical indifference and poor sales but has become critically acclaimed; in 2003, Rolling Stone called it the "most prophetic rock album ever made."
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock 'n' Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock 'n' Roll is a collection of essays written by famous rock music critic Lester Bangs. Named for a 1971 article of the same title, it was edited by Greil Marcus and released in 1987, five years after Bangs' death. In his introduction, Marcus explains that, "Perhaps what this book demands from a reader is a willingness to accept that the best writer in America could write almost nothing but record reviews."
Orgasm is the only album by the experimental band Cromagnon, released in 1969 by the ESP-Disk record label.
Lulu is a collaboration album between rock singer-songwriter Lou Reed and heavy metal band Metallica. It was released on October 31, 2011 by Warner Bros. in the U.S. and Vertigo elsewhere. The album is the final full-length studio recording project that Reed was involved in before his death in October 2013. It was recorded in San Rafael, California, during April to June 2011, after Reed had played with Metallica at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary Concert which led to them wanting to collaborate. The lead single, titled "The View", was released on September 27, 2011.
Irving Solomon "Irv" Teibel was an American field recordist, graphic designer, and photographer. His company, Syntonic Research, Inc., is best known for its influential environments psychoacoustic recording series (1969–1979) and The Altered Nixon Speech (1973). Teibel was also an accomplished photographer who worked as an editor for Ziff Davis and photographed for Popular Photography and Car and Driver.
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