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Author Topic: Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music - genius work or complete trash?  (Read 5976 times)
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Marko-V
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« on: May 27, 2014, 08:41:15 PM »

Tried to search if there is topic of Lou Reed's MMM, but did not find any... point me to the right direction if I'm mistaken.

Just wanted to know what do you think of MMM? Is it just some amphetamine-ridden mishmash of feedback, a joke or entertaining piece ort sound art? I find it quite hard to listen to at one sit, and every time I try... I keep questioning myself, why bother? But... still there must be some strange fascination in it because I own CD, remastered vinyl and DVD editions of MMM and haven't regretted buying them.
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HongKongGoolagong
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 09:54:35 PM »

Love the record, it's untamed harsh noise and its extremity must certainly have had a major influence on the nascent Throbbing Gristle who were fans at the time and therefore on the whole Industrial genre.

The theory that it was a prank is misguided - I think Lou Reed was trying to prove that he could make sonic experimentation just like John Cale was known for before the Velvets, as he was coming off a run of over-commercial releases. Of course his drug habits of the era add a certain crazy attitude to the work exemplified by the weird sleevenotes, 'for those for whom the needle is no more than a toothbrush, my week beats your year' etc.

If you can take a long Merzbow or Hijokaidan release, MMM is easy.
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Zeno Marx
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 10:08:50 PM »

I thought it was to fulfill his record deal contract so he could move to another label.  TVU was always influenced by his contemporary NY minimalists.  For whatever reason(s) he made the album, it wasn't out of left field.

Genius work.  It's on a couple of my recommendation lists.  I'm sorry I didn't hear it sooner.  It would have been handy to find around the same time I heard Ummagumma.  I wonder how I would have heard it then.  I wonder how it could have added, or subtracted, from that part of my own musical history.
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tiny_tove
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 10:17:02 PM »

Essential. Not an easy bit, but considering the time and who released it it adds even more appeal.
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Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2014, 12:20:37 AM »

Read a Reed biography which shows spent a long time justifying this release to his critics and the public. Something to do with taking heroin and listening to it. Then it became a bit of an embarrassment for him when he went totally commercial ("My Red Joystick"), then became something he could flog again in some thirtieth-anniversary issue or something, at a time when it was less of an embarrassment. 

I dig it - it's certainly not trash. Never had a proper copy, a friend taped it for me (I imagine he must have avoided listening to the damn thing). Certainly ahead of its time in terms of Harsh Noise, although compared with the latter Japanese masters it's fairly sedate.

How far away was it from the sort of thing "the Velvets" did live? I'm given to believe they were quite intense in a live situation, often getting into louder, harsher noise if the mood hit them.
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Tommy Carlsson
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2014, 02:05:26 AM »

Yeah, I have nothing to add really... who thinks it's trash?

And if you dig MMM, you probably also dig this -- ironically the only non-Lou penned VU track that I can think of!

VU Loop, ESSENTIAL listening
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y8fyIVhqXI
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Zeno Marx
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2014, 02:24:54 AM »

How far away was it from the sort of thing "the Velvets" did live? I'm given to believe they were quite intense in a live situation, often getting into louder, harsher noise if the mood hit them.
I'm trying to remember if any of the boots I've heard get beyond moments of unsustained dissonance.  I'm almost certain they never got as bold as the Grateful Dead did with what is known as their Feedback track on live recordings (which is very much like we now know as noise).  TVU was more about repetition built into quasi-meditation and something you could remotely call a drone vibe (not drone, but akin to the minimalists) ala "Sister Ray".  They got noisy in a rock sense, but not so much in an experimental sense.  They would hit a blast of noise or dissonance to break into "Sister Ray", but it wasn't a long prelude.  I should probably go back and re-listen to a couple recordings before I stand behind any of this.
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Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2014, 07:16:06 AM »

It's very likely I've got my stories mixed up. I do recall reading, in a Pink Floyd concert program I found at a friend's house, that PF apparently played student parties in their early days where they would layer feedback blatantly. Perhaps I was thinking of something like that.
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2014, 09:04:40 AM »

i am very fond of the Zeitkratzer version of MMM

http://www.discogs.com/Zeitkratzer-And-Lou-Reed-Metal-Machine-Music/release/1119902

when Zeitkratzer approached Loud Reed with the idea to transcribe the piece for a classical ensemble he said that they are mad and that it is impossible. but they did it with great success.
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Zeno Marx
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2014, 05:12:29 PM »

It's very likely I've got my stories mixed up. I do recall reading, in a Pink Floyd concert program I found at a friend's house, that PF apparently played student parties in their early days where they would layer feedback blatantly. Perhaps I was thinking of something like that.
There are many PF live recordings.  If they did anything like that, I would think you could find examples of it.
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vargrwulf
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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2014, 07:46:11 AM »

The last time that I went out to a bar I was astounded to see this record on the jukebox.
I played just the first track. It took at least ten minutes before they finally turned it off.
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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2014, 04:36:38 PM »

The last time that I went out to a bar I was astounded to see this record on the jukebox.
I played just the first track. It took at least ten minutes before they finally turned it off.

Wow, that is surprising. Whoever decided on that thinking "this would be great pub music!" must have never heard it before and thinking it's just the same ol' Lou Reed as on other records, or wanted to fuck with people.

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Bloated Slutbag
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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2014, 05:06:31 PM »

or wanted to fuck with people.

Here's hoping.
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Zeno Marx
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2014, 05:15:29 PM »

I hadn't heard this until today.

"In December 1966, Warhol and David Dalton designed Issue 3 of the multimedia Aspen.  Included in this issue of the magazine, which retailed at $4 per copy and was packaged in a hinged box designed to look like Fab laundry detergent, were various leaflets and booklets, one of which was a commentary on rock and roll by Lou Reed, another an EPI promotional newspaper. Also enclosed was a 2-sided flexi disk, side one produced by Peter Walker, a musical associate of Timothy Leary, and side two titled 'Loop', credited to the Velvet Underground but actually recorded by Cale alone. 'Loop', a recording solely of pulsating audio feedback culminating in a locked groove, was 'a precursor to [Reed's] Metal Machine Music, say Velvets archivists M.C. Kostek and Phil Milstein in the book, The Velvet Underground Companion. 'Loop' also predates much industrial music as well. More significantly, from a retail standpoint, 'Loop' was the group's first commercially available recording as the Velvet Underground."
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ImpulsyStetoskopu
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2014, 05:27:54 PM »

I hadn't heard this until today.

"In December 1966, Warhol and David Dalton designed Issue 3 of the multimedia Aspen.  Included in this issue of the magazine, which retailed at $4 per copy and was packaged in a hinged box designed to look like Fab laundry detergent, were various leaflets and booklets, one of which was a commentary on rock and roll by Lou Reed, another an EPI promotional newspaper. Also enclosed was a 2-sided flexi disk, side one produced by Peter Walker, a musical associate of Timothy Leary, and side two titled 'Loop', credited to the Velvet Underground but actually recorded by Cale alone. 'Loop', a recording solely of pulsating audio feedback culminating in a locked groove, was 'a precursor to [Reed's] Metal Machine Music, say Velvets archivists M.C. Kostek and Phil Milstein in the book, The Velvet Underground Companion. 'Loop' also predates much industrial music as well. More significantly, from a retail standpoint, 'Loop' was the group's first commercially available recording as the Velvet Underground."

Many recordings from this period are here: http://www.discogs.com/John-Cale-New-York-In-The-1960s/release/725082
There is 3 x CD box too. Highly recommended! Pre-noise industrial materials!
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 05:30:46 PM by ImpulsyStetoskopu » Logged

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