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You never knew you loved... Power noise delivers ambient abstract sound

Amy Plachta | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 22nd, 2010



Distorted guitars have become a mainstay in rock music, whether used sparingly to provide just a touch of edge and texture, or so heavily that notes and melodies become almost indiscernible behind chugging rhythms.

Some electronic artists have followed suit, combining the steady 4/4 beats of IDM, drum and bass, or breakcore with the distorted textures of post-industrial music to create a new sub-genre called power noise.

Unlike its predecessors, power noise is not always particularly danceable, making it slightly less popular at raves and in clubs. Despite a steady beat, the overall tone is often more ambient and abstract.

Songs are atypically driven as melody comes in second behind rhythm. Instruments are added more for embellishment than focus, and lyrics are often completely absent or else sampled from film dialogue, leaving entire tracks to be driven solely by a thumping kick drum. The backbone is often generated by a drum machine like the Roland TR-909, a favourite among hip hop artists.

While power noise traces its influences back into the eighties and nineties via such artists as Spanish industrialist Esplendor Geometrico and Belgian act Dive, the term itself only dates to 1997, when Noisex released the track United (Power Noise Movement). The band gained publicity in the United States for the genre when they were signed to the label Mental Ulcer Forges by :wumpscut:.

Over the years the style has spread globally, though early artists were predominantly European, focused mostly in Germany or Belgium. Today the largest scenes are still in those same regions, with a smaller yet still notable degree of penetration in North American markets.

Prospero album coverProspero: For roughly the past decade Wade Anderson has been working under the name Prospero. Based in Toronto, he produces original music and also remixes tracks by other industrial artists. His 2008 album Folie a Deux features the track Protection and Precaution.

Combichrist: Crossing between many genres, Combichrist is distinct among many power noise musicians in their inclusion of lyrics, such as on the track Get Your Body Beat from the album What the F**k is Wrong With You People, due out in April of this year.

Asche: Ant-Zen, Germany’s foremost industrial and power noise label, proudly boasts Asche, who moves easily between power noise, power electronic, and various ambient genres. His harsh, rhythmic approach can be heard on tracks like Another Kind ov Being from Distorted Disco, released in 2000.
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