Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music

ree-mmm.jpg (19k) Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music
(Buddha - 2000/ RCA - 1975)

If you're wondering "Why on earth is Lou Reed in the AmbiEntrance!?", perhaps you're too young to remember his 1975 kiss-off to the music industry...

Metal Machine Music features more than an hour of squealing, reverberating guitar feedback, which while deemed as umarketable by many, undeniably captures a convergence of raw power, experimental noise and up-yours anti-sentiment.

A dense and unrelenting cacophony, Metal Machine Music Part I stutters, squalls and screams, all at the same time. Like audio-mirages, one occasionally seems to hear computer bleeps and/or mouse squeaks being flung from the churning vortex of raw power. The silence between tracks seems to roar... then Metal Machine Music Part II (15:53) continues to mine the same material; a continually-simmering blast of squawking energy ripples screeching over half-heard tremolos and snaking rivulets of molten guitar strings.

Except to add, "I think my ear canals are bleeding...", what can I say about Metal Machine Music Part III (16:13) that hasn't already been said; it's densely scrawled in the same violent frenzy as the rest. (Un?)fortunately the re-masterers at Buddha were unable (unwilling?) to close the CD as the vinyl album had 25 years ago... at the end of the finishing assault, Metal Machine Music Part IV, Reed had engineers create a locked groove so that the record literally wouldn't stop playing its final wrenching seconds until someone manually lifted the needle (or pulled the plug).

Inside the lovely faux-metallic re-packaging, this 25-year commemoration contains the original liner notes and a more-recent essay by David Fricke.

Whether it's "noise-as-art" or "noise-as-attitude" (or some combination thereof which definitely includes "noise"), you've got to give Lou Reed credit for having the cast-iron balls (and eardrums) to erect such a monumental beacon of blistering chaos. Experimentationalists and noise-freaks will feel Metal Machine Music coursing through their veins, while the serenity-minded should have the forethought to stay away. From somewhere between, I give an appreciative 8.2 for raucous discontent. 8-2.gif
This review posted December 30, 2000

AmbiEntrance © 2000-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).