Metal Machine Music
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Metal Machine Music

Many of the world’s greatest discoveries were made serendipitously. From Post-its and silly putty, to microwaves and penicillin, lots of good things happen by mistake. When Brian Joseph Davis, while browsing the web at the Blocks office, misread the name “Alvin Lucier” as “Alvin Lucifer,” he asked his colleague Steve Kado how he might put to use his misinterpretation. And in the world of grant money and experimental everything, a tiny misread can mean a whole new method. So begat “Alvin Lucifer.”
Davis, who describes Kado and himself as “sound-art geeks,” was reading about Alvin Lucier’s Music on a Long Thin Wire—music created by vibrations on a lengthy, stretched-out piano wire. Davis describes the sound of the original as “pretty and powerful,” “bell-like in clarity,” “something that you really just wanna sit there and listen to.” It’s a drone sound familiar to those familiar with experimental metal bands like Boris and Sunn O))). But is that music, or is it noise? Well, of course, that depends on how you define “music.” Lucier’s original piece was constructed using only a metal wire, speakers, a sine wave generator, and microphones. Davis and Kado are taking the “metal” wire more literally, getting rid of the generator and replacing it with track “Untitled” by metal act Neurosis and hooking it up to some heavy-duty modern pedals (RAT’s) and amps (SVT 8 x 10’s, if you must know).
Sure, Lucier’s original experiment was noisy, but the latter duo are out to make the sound even noisier. By taking the experiment and turning it metal, they’re making it more accessible for fans of more music genres, not just the self-professed sound geeks. They’re taking old-style composition out of the music clinic and bringing it to the concert hall, or in this case, Mercer Union. Tonight, during Lucifer’s hours (between 6 p.m. and 12:06:06 a.m.), you’re invited to drop by for a beer on a bean bag to sit, listen, and decide for yourself—is it art? Is it noise? Is it music? Or is it just the weirdness that is Steve Kado and Blocks out to mess with people’s minds yet again?