let's get physical

The physical dimension of music is awesome, its ability to envelop space and work over your body, and I think it’s where the pleasure of the live act comes from. I got to thinking about this when I went to see doom metal band Sunn0))) play the Hi Fi Bar last Wednesday, with support from Japanese metal band Boris. The bottom-end sub-bass of Sunn0))) is simply the most physical sound I’ve ever felt. And I say felt because that’s how the experience went – you didn’t so much register them aurally as physiologically. And Sunn0))) are something that must be seen to get this all this, recordings can't even hold a candle to the live show. This band, however, are just an extreme example, because all music, fuck all sound is an inherently material thing – resonating through matter, whatever it may be. We ‘feel’ sound before we ‘hear’ it:

And it’s the pre-processed moment of sound that can sometimes be the most affecting. Its somewhere between the tips of a musicians fingers and the bit in your brain that goes “I do/don’t like that” – before you rank it on a scale, before you say “it sounds like…”, before it gets re-looped back into the indie/pop/rap/whatever culture it came from – before all that crap is the pure physical experience.

I think we’re most attuned to this experience when the music heard is particularly abrasive or extremely fucking loud. I remember Cobra Killer’s set at Meredith a few years back. Even at the crest of the supernatural amphitheatre their screaming was fucking piercing, scarily loud.

But the most widespread experience of music’s physical effect is ringing ears. It happens after nearly every suitably-loud gig, and sometimes, in the case of a rather poorly-tuned Midnight Juggernauts performance at a certain university’s union night, the ring stays with you for days after. Ringing ears are nothing other than the physical trace (or damage) of listening to music, and that’s why they rock. They’re like a constant white-noise reminder of the good times you had and heard.

Olivia Newton-John - Let's Get Physical

For another take: Audio-Oh

For those with serious tinnitus, consult: http://www.noiserelief.com/

1 riffs:

Dave said...

Though after Sunn 0))) I found it was more about melting organs than ringing ears.