First pages of a to-be-written book about noise music, mysticism and pure experiences.
(GIN Nicolò is a writer from Italy, and an amateur noise musician, based in Milan, Northern Italy)
When I think of the best way to understand myself, I mean words and vocal sounds, I certainly think of the monologue. You know, that’s how you do a debate: you imagine a monologue and you bring it, broken up, to the audience. So it’s not very difficult for me to think up a character and bring it to life, because it’s making a part of me speak in monologue, breaking it up between actions, descriptions and gestures of the most varied kind, just to etch those few – and right – words into the mind of those who are hearing me. It’s all technical huh, Hitler came to power because he could speak well.
A book is nothing but wickedness, pure and simple wickedness, what kind? Like: opening a vein and bleeding while with your bloody arm you write, and it hurts, it hurts badly, but you have to. You have to open the vein if you want the demon to come out. There is nothing scientific about it, because science and art are two parallels that will never meet, it is everything, simple, technique and pain. Because art is pain.
Yes pain, because the painter hurts his whole body, for days and days, before the canvas is ready, in the same way the writer sabers his arms until he gets the right vein that makes him write. Art is not democratic, if you don’t talk about cutting yourself: everyone can do it, no one can be identical in the way they cut themselves and no one has the same blood pressure, anyone and everyone can be similar, but never identical. It is as meritocratic as a Confucian empire, only those who can pull the demons out of their veins, survive the pain and make their blood spurt like a Pollock are truly masters of art.
When I think, I elaborate and come up with speeches and I think about the best way to throw down a few lines, I imagine a man in the same situation as me, it makes me externalize the pain, the simple painful blood in my veins – it also makes me think that the computer works by converting my platelets into electricity – I think of people who speak, like an Antonin Artaud, who freaks out on the radio and says what he wants, a Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who, artistically, has created his own way of expressing himself freely. And I miss this: to express myself freely, without constraints of any kind. Even screaming.
I became interested in la Noise – also known as rumorism – when I became interested in music in a broader sense. I thought at the time: I don’t think there is anything more experimental and listenable than this or that contemporary artist – how wrong I was. It did exist, and when a friend of mine played me a performance by Merzbow – known for his broad walls of noise and high notes by the simple folk, who associate him with something bizarre as an end in itself (a bit like their lives, bizarre and an ending in itself) – I was stunned.
Whenever I find myself talking about la Noise – I call it in the feminine, like a madre – I always think of that fortuitous event: my house, COVID-19 quarantine and the mattress under the TV set. I was listening to Merzbow, a performance at the Boiler Room – which I’m still listening to as I write – the sounds are high–pitched, the brain doesn’t like them at first, then you get used to the first drone – a repeated background note, also characteristic of Eastern sacred music, whether Christian or not – then you get used to the minimal high repeated sound, then you get used to it and there you are: you’re fine, it’s all controlled. It sounds as if you are being hunted by something, but you can control this danger, you know you can kill it whenever you want by clicking the pause button. And immediately afterwards the minimal surprises you with a new sound.
This round goes on for a few tens of seconds, or minutes, or hours, arriving at a state akin to a mystical experience, where your body and your ears are distinct but related. They are two organs, complex yes, but they work together, one (the ears) giving you proof of strength, hardening in a continuous violence given by la Noise, the other (the body) keeps the ears alive. Then, as soon as you’re used to la Noise, the brain takes over – for goodness sake, it takes time, it must be that I live above a factory so it’s a noise I’m used to.
The brain is the one who will guide you, or rather: show you various bodily and organic ways to follow. Since there are no words – apart from in some tracks with a featuring such as Merzbow and Boris or Jun Togawa and Hijokaidan, it is still an alien language to an Italian as it is Japanese – most of it is all your own mental baggage, so what being subjected to the noise – injected, that is, with the ability to control it – makes you feel and imagine. It is an experience on a par with prayer.
Once you get used to it, you are free to travel – and focus on the journey – because la Noise envelops you and you feel, above all, a longed–for peace, hence also the apt parallelism with eastern sacred music – it is no coincidence that Merzbow recorded tracks called Mantras on the album Merzbuddha. So comes the doubt, justified by my faith: is this prayer?
In the usually nihilistic and very materialistic West – one notes that this music in the West (partly in the East) is mostly made with a material and progressive undertone, as if to imply that all experimental art is necessarily an invective against this or that fascist/totalitarian regime – one does not fully understand this spiritual sound in noise.
Yet it was all born one fine Giolittian-era day, in Italy, from the mind of Luigi Russolo. Futurist of the first hour, musician and inventor – at the time there was little distinction between experimental musician and inventor, especially since everything that was to be experimented with had to be created materially, with inventions like the Intonarumori.
At the time it was the second–third Industrial Revolution, but also the very first time that the city woke up, lived and over–lived in noise, in the industrial echo and in its own awakening, Russolo’s opera omnia,Il Risveglio della Città, 1913, was born.
Basically, seen in a technical term of our time, it was a simple re–enactment of a field recording – an activity where you record sounds, artificial and not, in the open air. Everything was in tune with its invention, but after Italian futurism, it would be decades before this noise experience returned.
Going beyond this historical parenthesis – obviously written to better define the artisanal environment in which we find ourselves, as well as to divulge that all too often forgotten history – we return to the experience of la Noise: mysticism.
When I speak of pure mysticism, I am not limiting myself to defining rumorism as only and simple music, not even religion, because it does not present dogma – apart from the only one, that is, knowing how to listen to the dynamics of one’s own soul when it is subject to experience – but not even superstition – because all of this is incredibly lived, and presents nothing so–called paranormal, and, taking up the dogma, presents nothing but the same dynamism in relation to experience.
It is all a heavy experience – putting the aside on the very democratic word that it is experience, something that can be experienced by all, but also on the egotistical word, as it is not at all shareable (at least not within the very limits of spoken/written language) and above all it is unique – it is yours and yours alone.
Quoting Kitaro Nishida, Japanese Buddhist philosopher:
To experience means to know the facts as they are, to know in accordance with the facts by completely renouncing one’s own inventions… by pure I refer to the state of experience as it is, without the slightest addition of deliberative discrimination.
When I think of an actual pure experience, I think back to when I lay down under the television, with the mattress I had imported from my room, with a pillow under
my left arm while with my right arm I was writing, mostly writing down poems about noise.
At that moment I remember I was inan altered state, but no narcotic – perhaps just a realization mixed with psychosis. I was rested, but within me brooded a great destruction and weariness, which I had to keep inside, tightening my mouth, and rationing with an eyedropper how much blood to let out on the paper, lest I overdo it and let out demons that would upset the experience.
Because at that moment, that precise moment – amidst noise and a comfortable bed – I was living the present and experiencing it, dynamic and absolutely my own.
I now quote an Italian occultist, reported in the Introduction to Magic, by Julius Evola and the UR Group, the author writes under the name of Pietro Negri:
It was the complete reversal of ordinary human sensation; not only did the ego no longer have the impression of being contained, however localised, in the body; not only had it acquired the perception of the incorporeality of its own body, but it felt its own body within itself, it felt everything sub specie interioritatis
I quote this to connect with the word: transcendence.
To be continued.