It has become a cliche in popular culture (if not necessarily amongst historians) that history is written by the victors. And although this assertion might be useful as an easy way to explain general bias and deficiencies in historical analysis, it is not entirely accurate on its face. Sure, the victors in war, empire building, and struggles for economic superiority always develop their own self serving versions of history, but the important point is not simply what they have written, or the fact that they have chosen to write at all. Instead, what really matters is that such persons and entities are able to communicate their version of events to the largest number of people, since it is the process of organization and communication that turns one subjective perspective into "objective" fact. It isn't as if the dominant actors in history are the only ones that have ever picked up pens, its just that they have largely been able to render their perspectives the only ones that really matter to most people. But if this line of reasoning can be applied (even loosely) to the recording and documenting of local music and the community surrounding it, it can be said that a group of experimental musicians in Denton, and many others like them, have decided to ignore it.
It probably seems kind of silly to talk about historical analysis and Denton noise rock in the same piece, because lets face it- experimental noise/improv groups from Denton aren't going to change the world, and there is a very strong possibility that they aren't even going to change the local music community. No matter how many new and exciting ideas these bands and their associates might develop in the arenas of music, visual art, performance or distribution, the "big" events in local music will probably always involve something along the lines of a fire marshall shutting down a really boring show by a really boring band somewhere in Dallas, while most of the local musicians that have any true potential to innovate and create something new will continue to be marginalized and largely ignored before they finally decide to move or give up all together. Many will argue that this state of affairs is warranted- after all, who the hell actually sits down and listens to noise rock, right? But rather than responding to such simplistic notions, the members of You are the Universe, iDi* Amin, Notes from Underground and some of their friends and collaborators have elected to start an entirely new discussion by playing their own shows at their own space, and using their own methods to document their ventures on their own terms.
This collective effort centers around a house, two blogs and a record label, all of which focus on a group of bands that probably won't ever win any popularity contests amongst the Greenville barhopping general public. The house, located at 628 Lakey St. in Denton, has been dubbed the House of Tinnitus, and it is there that Jason Moore, Andrew Michael Hilburn, and house residents Rob Buttrum and Amelia Jaycen have begun holding free, open admission shows twice a month, featuring a diverse range of acts that might not pull large crowds often enough to be invited back to clubs on a regular basis, but put on shows that should attract anyone with an interest in rock and avant garde music that goes beyond a passing fancy. Their first show last month featured Warmer Milks, and their upcoming show this Friday, August 18th will feature Cry Blood Apache, Night Game Cult, Sparrow/Hawk with Andrew Michael, and Tinnitus
, an improv/noise project featuring Buttrum and Jaycen. So far, the group plans to keep the shows free (although they will seek donations), and are planning performances by their own bands, other interesting local bands, and up and coming touring bands. The purpose behind the house, as URTU member Jason Moore explains, is to create a "sort of home base for the growing Denton 'noise' scene," a phrase he uses for lack of a better term. The house is quite large, and its residents are said to be very welcoming to anyone that is interested in attending the shows, giving it the potential to be a true center of activity as Denton comes back to life in the coming weeks with the start of a new semester.
The house will serve as a forum for many of the collective's future endeavors, and the record label/ blog Frenetic Love
, as well as the New Century Art blog
, will be used to document these and other events that will be important to the growing number of experimental musicians and adventurous music fans in Denton. "The (frenetic love) blog is really just a venue for writing about music as a sensory experience" Moore says, juxtaposing it to most other music blogs, which he claims "are written as a way to simplify music." Frenetic Love and New Century Art already contain reviews, interviews, and short think pieces about noise, local experimental music, and how such music interacts with popular culture and media. Their writing is intelligent and thoughtful, and they appear to be interested in the physical experiences of listening to music, in addition to the theoretical elements of improv/noise that often make such music as fascinating to talk about as it is to listen to. The groups plan to continue using both blogs as a channel for "documenting what (their bands) are creating as a unit," and as a primary source for information on the community that they are developing.
The Frenetic Love record label will serve a similar purpose, albeit through a different medium, documenting live performances and proper, studio recorded releases by some of the better Denton bands. The label will be modeled loosely after some of the indie tape trading labels of the past, recording and distributing live performances and experiments by Denton bands in order to document the creative process as it is occurring. One such recording, an improv document featuring Sparrow/Hawk and Andrew Michael, will be distributed for free at the upcoming show on Friday, and Hilburn plans on creating numerous other live recordings and archiving them as a loose document of what is happening in Denton experimental music as of right now. The label also plans to release proper full length tapes by Chief Death Rage, You are the Universe, and others, with the intent to mass distribute them commercially.
Although those involved with the projects would certainly like to experience some commercial success, Moore does not see it as a realistic possibility, and seems to be equally, if not more interested in simply documenting what the Denton experimental community is doing, and helping to strengthen a small music community that probably can't rely on much attention from the established mainstream local media.
The aspect of the Frenetic Love/House of Tinnitus/ New Century Art project that is perhaps most exciting is not the novelty of the idea, but rather the relative simplicity in executing it. Sure, zines and D.I.Y. record labels, venues and house shows have been around as long as rock n roll has, but today, all of this can be done much quicker and with relatively fewer hassles than ever before. The multimedia approach that musicians can use to document their work and their lives, mixing visual art, writing, music, and happenings, is obviously far more complex and comprehensive than anything that technology has permitted musicians to do before, opening up a wide range of expressive possibilities to people that would have never had access to such media even seven years ago.
Due to a myriad of factors that are far more complex than "Sam sucks" or "corporations," Denton noise rock will probably never be covered in much detail by the Dallas Morning News, the Observer, or any other mainstream local publication. There just isn't the market for it. But today, this fact is becoming less and less relevant to the level of impact that this kind of music can have, since blogs are just as easy to read (if not easier) than newspapers, and burning a bunch of CDs of a live performance that just took place (which I have seen URTU do in the past) is easier and cheaper than shopping for a record label. Put simply, anyone can create media that will shape, market, and document their own perceptions and experiences, which could in turn help shape our collective memories of such events in the future. Did you see George W. Bush dancing with Ricky Martin at his 2000 election victory party? Yeah, thats why shit like this is important. Theres no telling what might come of it, but the fact that this group of bands is able to shape the present and possibly the future through multimedia has to be a good thing, because those who will likely be considered "victors" by future historians seem to have really shitty taste in music.