Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music

Widely seen as Lou Reed’s “fuck you” to his fans, his record company and the music industry in general, MMM sees Reed playing amplifiers, effects boxes and tape machines, but no traditional instruments. This ends up being futuristic (still) robotic noise music, but is not completely random or unplanned (at least, Lou claims it isn’t). There are sounds similar to strings, horns and even bird calls throughout, making it reminiscent of many different genres – in fact, his record company wanted to release it on their classical label as an “experimental/electronic” album, but Reed insisted that it was a “rock” record and got his way.

This could easily be sci-fi soundtrack music – I envision some outer space opium den/bordello when listening to this. Or, maybe some far distant rave where people don’t need a beat to swing to.

The vinyl release was a discount-priced double album set, so the CD is composed of 4 “suites” of about 15 minutes each. I was thinking that it should just end abruptly and start over again as if on a loop, but the vinyl had a repeating run-off groove, so the CD ends with a minute or two of the repeat and then stops.

Certainly not for the weak of heart or the close-minded – this is pure noise as music and as such is quite interesting but not something that is easy to listen to on a regular basis. I did find it oddly soothing on my work commute, though!