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Author Topic: Minimalism Done Right (and Wrong)  (Read 865 times)
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Balor/SS1535
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« on: July 15, 2021, 07:23:04 PM »

Based on a search through the forum, minimalism seems to be a term included in many release announcements and descriptions, but there was not a thread that seemed dedicated to minimalism generally (apart from an old, short one focusing just on noise).

I have posted here before about my love for the Golden Rain live tape.  It just seems to accomplish so much with so little - droning synths, sparse metal banging, and well-placed vocals/samples.  Yet the sound is still powerful, atmospheric, and, most important of all, continually interesting to listen to.

With that, what do you all see as the best (and worst) examples of minimalism in noise, industrial, and power electronics?  Why/how is the minimalism in these releases so effective?  Why/how does minimalism fail to be interesting in other cases?

Also, if you try to record minimalist sounds of your own, what strategies do you use?  How does minimalist recording change when it is a based on deliberate restrictions (deciding to limit yourself to only certain pieces of gear, for instance) rather than out of necessity (only having access to limited amounts of equipment/recording abilities)?
« Last Edit: July 15, 2021, 07:26:01 PM by Balor/SS1535 » Logged
Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2021, 03:07:32 AM »

I tend to think of The Haters in this regard. Often there are attempts to get sound from minimal sources, and often the sounds can be unchanging and static in themselves.

I recall an interview with William Bennett in which he referred to Whitehouse as "minimal". That makes sense in regards to their earlier recordings. Sparse use of sparse sounds.

I'm a big fan of recording long, lazy drones that barely change. This lies more outside of the usual Noise/PE/etc racket. There's something of a scene of people basically taking from eleh, Elaine Radigue, etc, and just stretching sounds out indefinitely. For me, it's not mere necessity, I've got a fair amount of gear. I just like being lazy.

As for what makes it good or bad, while I'm a big fan of minimalism in most cases I still can't get over hating carbon-copy Wall Noise shit, that we were inundated with for a while there in the 2000's/2010's. Seems to have calmed down for now. There was just too much of it going around. Set a Death Metal pedal to stun for an hour, wrap a pair of nylons around it and use the word "obsessive" a lot = instant attention. Dull as dishwater. I like Vomir's image more than his noise.

It may be a distinction can be made, in some cases, between source and sound. As in, using very sparse sources to create more sound, or creating sparse, static sounds regardless of the source.
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FallOfNature
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2021, 04:35:25 AM »


Atrax Morgue on "No More" and a handful of others

Murder Corporation has a release or two with very minimal sound sources creating a good effect.

Some X.E, Final Solution
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CannibalRitual
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2021, 10:34:43 AM »

Funny like it took only one answer to have someone talk shit on HNW. However I'm quite unfamiliar with that 'nylon' hype, wherever it originated from ;)
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Balor/SS1535
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2021, 06:12:19 PM »

s for what makes it good or bad, while I'm a big fan of minimalism in most cases I still can't get over hating carbon-copy Wall Noise shit, that we were inundated with for a while there in the 2000's/2010's. Seems to have calmed down for now. There was just too much of it going around. Set a Death Metal pedal to stun for an hour, wrap a pair of nylons around it and use the word "obsessive" a lot = instant attention. Dull as dishwater. I like Vomir's image more than his noise.

It's interesting that you mention harsh noise wall, as I was thinking about that as I was writing my post.  I starting thinking about it as the other extreme of how you seem to.  It sounds, in some ways, to be the opposite of minimalism to me.  Listening to HNW feels like a huge mass of sound that is so large that nothing but a constant static can be heard - a maximalism almost.  But maybe that is just me falling prey to a totally untrue assumption that minimalism must produce small sounds?  Or, maybe maximalism and minimalism eventually come around to the same thing at some point?
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Bloated Slutbag
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2021, 07:41:06 PM »

a huge mass of sound that is so large that nothing but a constant static can be heard - a maximalism almost.  But maybe that is just me falling prey to a totally untrue assumption that minimalism must produce small sounds?

I can get that because I felt the same way when I first started running into descriptors of Thomas Koner in his Permafrost years. Minimalist? How? At the correct levels the shit blotted out the sky! This perhaps would simply have been a misreading or misunderstanding of the term on my part. But now, very recently in fact, I was watching a (fascinating 2+ hr) interview with Jean-Claude Eloy (in which he in fact shouts out the "noise movement" halfway through!) and the interviewer quotes Francois Bayle to the effect of, "in the history of mankind there are two main discoveries, the fire and the electricity, which nowadays influences our music, our way of thinking about music." Where "the electricity", as a limitless re-presentation of energy, would redefine our relationship with how music is produced, no longer necessarily reliant on the limitations of the body. And then would have to, on some level, if not redefine (because I suppose minimalism as a genre term may not predate electronic music), but  rather refine our sense of what a minamalist ideal might necessarily entail.

Or not.

edit. the abovementioned interview is on youtube for those who care.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2021, 07:44:46 PM by Bloated Slutbag » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2021, 07:44:25 PM »

I was listening to Andrew Chalk - East of the Sun CD last night. Perfect minimal drones with subtle organic rumblings in the background and bass frequencies that made some some stuff in my room vibrate for extra ambience. Also, stuff like Kevin Drumm - Imperial Distortion or Hair Police - Drawn Dead is appreciated here.
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Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2021, 12:59:29 PM »

It's interesting that you mention harsh noise wall, as I was thinking about that as I was writing my post.  I starting thinking about it as the other extreme of how you seem to.  It sounds, in some ways, to be the opposite of minimalism to me.  Listening to HNW feels like a huge mass of sound that is so large that nothing but a constant static can be heard - a maximalism almost.  But maybe that is just me falling prey to a totally untrue assumption that minimalism must produce small sounds?  Or, maybe maximalism and minimalism eventually come around to the same thing at some point?

Well, by "minimalist", as far as Noise is concerned, I think in terms of little happening. As opposed to, for example, something like K2 or earlier Guilty Connector. "Fast Noise", I used to call things like that. Whereas Harsh Noise like Macronympha etc has a lot going on in it as well, often enough. So that's my definition.

As I understand it, minimalism in music generally refers to that kind of Glass/Riley/Reich/etc kind of arpeggio-over-all extremity. And my reaction to that is like yours to HNW, in that I always thought of it as more maximal and intense. But I think it also applies to composers like Basinski, Feldman, the "holy minimalists", etc.

Funny like it took only one answer to have someone talk shit on HNW. However I'm quite unfamiliar with that 'nylon' hype, wherever it originated from ;)

I'll plead bias, so I'll have to ask people to indulge my hyperbole on the matter. I'd swear blind there were a few projects that were not The Rita that were on about ripped nylons.

I've often thought it's the kind of thing I should like, given my preferences, but just couldn't do it. Still, if the subject is minimalism in Noise, HNW does deserve a place of recognition (no doubt more positive than mine).
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2021, 07:13:54 AM »

HNW definitely. A lot of "drone" bores the shit out of me these days as well. Like 15 minute track of unmoving simple synth oscillators.

When I think of minimalism done right I think of Atrax Morgue, some really minimal cold wave stuff is great too. BDN "Great Death" is quite minimal as well. I remember really enjoying Aube but honestly I haven't listened to that in years.

I think my preferred "minimal" is like 3 different layers of sound working together but only slowly changing. Usually when there is only one layer it's just not enough; especially when it doesn't change at all, or if the changes are too small to notice.
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