Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation (Sign) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This is a wild ride through the beginnings of noise music from someone who experienced it firsthand. Novak documents the genre's birth in Japan and charts its journey to the rest of the globe from there. Sometimes dense and academic, but never uninteresting. If you've seen and liked the HANATARASH bulldozer gig videos and pictures, read this book. If you haven't seen them, google them.

-- Delaney

— From Delaney A. Staff Picks


Noise, an underground music made through an amalgam of feedback, distortion, and electronic effects, first emerged as a genre in the 1980s, circulating on cassette tapes traded between fans in Japan, Europe, and North America. With its cultivated obscurity, ear-shattering sound, and over-the-top performances, Noise has captured the imagination of a small but passionate transnational audience.

For its scattered listeners, Noise always seems to be new and to come from somewhere else: in North America, it was called "Japanoise." But does Noise really belong to Japan? Is it even music at all? And why has Noise become such a compelling metaphor for the complexities of globalization and participatory media at the turn of the millennium?

In Japanoise, David Novak draws on more than a decade of research in Japan and the United States to trace the "cultural feedback" that generates and sustains Noise. He provides a rich ethnographic account of live performances, the circulation of recordings, and the lives and creative practices of musicians and listeners. He explores the technologies of Noise and the productive distortions of its networks. Capturing the textures of feedback--its sonic and cultural layers and vibrations--Novak describes musical circulation through sound and listening, recording and performance, international exchange, and the social interpretations of media.

About the Author

David Novak is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780822353928
ISBN-10: 082235392X
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication Date: June 3rd, 2013
Pages: 304
Language: English
Series: Sign