“I hear a new world/ Calling me/ So strange and so real/ Haunting me”
– Joe Meek, “I Hear a New World”
In our early years, much of TMT’s identity was formed through our unabashed championing of so-called “noise music.” But noise in this age of hyper-mediation and decentralized networking is not simply a marketing keyword for a strand of music that had actually existed in various permutations for decades. These days, what we often describe as noise is a sweeping, persistent phenomenon, a swallowing constant that’s difficult to describe succinctly but always felt comprehensively. Within this noise, we are required to fashion performances that are oftentimes only legitimized through naive political framing, and we come out with wild distortions of culture and warped views about our roles within it: fetishized surprise releases, dance memes literally created by companies, co-opted event albums — instantaneous value creation.
This year, we won’t be shaping our list of favorites into a narrative. Any narrative is always already corrupted (not a bad thing). Instead, at the end of 2016, in a moment when we sometimes prioritize who we are over what we do, when we forget that the political process has never been civil, when we’ve become so desensitized to ongoing institutionalized, structural murder, we could probably use some self-reflection, a humble reminder of what it means to be social animals who happen to love making noise, musical or not. Because sometimes what constitutes the sounds of the year have nothing to do with our favorite music. Sometimes the sounds arrive as an “incongruously cheerful” symphony of muffled ringtones soundtracking tragedy. Sometimes they’re the creepy harmonies of algorithms, robots, and AI technology (which can now also write novels, create movies, kill people, oversee political campaigns, and become “Hitler-loving sex robots”). Sometimes it’s the noise from social media — whether it’s about protecting water, something about pizza, or the brave documentation of an unjustified death — or simply the noise as heard through our own curiosity, persistence, innovation, and risk-taking.
But whatever was upsetting about the noise in 2016 can still be reframed, however cautiously. As ideologies were set ablaze in both literal and metaphorical ways, we were reminded that this earth is populated first and foremost by people — human bodies — not ideas. 2016 was terrifying and weird and utterly exhausting, all of us partially brought to heel by mediums through which some of us might’ve hoped would “save us,” a reckoning that at its least harmful bruised only egos as we simultaneously retreated in disgust and worked toward something resembling a post-truth unification. It was our 2016, the horror a little closer to home this time, but in my opinion as dreadful and as inspiring as any other year. So strange, so real: whatever 2016 might’ve signified politically or aesthetically could maybe, possibly be the initial rumblings of a new world, a bubbling fulfillment of a promise that we never realized we were being ushered toward all along.
A Love Story 4 @deezius, neo, chuk, e, milkleaves, angel, ISIS, + every1else…. and most of all MY DAMN SELF
Stretching the boundaries of ballad work and symphonic noise, N-Prolenta’s A Love Story… headlined a stacked year for PTP (f.k.a. Purple Tape Pedigree) with an angelic, heart-direct study in iconography and neoliberalism (re: Rafael Lubner). Political and biotechnics aside, A Love Story felt at home in 2016, simply bedroom-eyed at face value, with serpentwithfeet, Chino Amobi, and Dedekind Cut all sharing a power-questioning, noise-and-drone-centric pop spirituality. The spacious, occasional heavenly movements from N-Prolenta differed from the accompanying 2016 works (Driks Ultra Three and Dviance collaboration STRIATED INATTENTION AND A CRIPPLED BLISSING), but stacking up action and horror flicks too high gets dangerous. That’s why there was romance — A Love Story.