The Art of the Earache: Five Bands From Phoenix's Noise Underground

Matt Loberg of Genital Stigmata/Geiger Retort.
Matt Loberg of Genital Stigmata/Geiger Retort.
Courtesy Photo

To those not plugged into the deeper chasms of the musical underground, the idea of a noise musician most likely seems oxymoronic and bizarre. An easily understandable stance, given that noise is largely considered to be an undesirable sonic experience.

However, over the course of decades, a sizable subsection of the extreme music underground has developed and refined an art form to the many shades of noise. A platform of subversion and subtlety that is capable of transmitting a range of emotion and aesthetic.

This sun-parched enclave for puritanical NRA members may seem the most unlikely place for a noise artist to reside, yet there is, in fact, a small group of artists and free-thinkers not so quietly producing meticulous compositions of discordant mania and buried beauty.

The following is a list of some current heavy hitters among the thicket of many.

Upcoming Events

James Fella

Undoubtedly a longstanding pillar of excellence, as far as Arizona noise and extreme music go, James Fella set the bar and secured it in place with a mountain of live performances (in various creative agents) and prolific releases. Putting aside earlier bands, James is better known as the principal songwriter for the infamous art rock band Soft Shoulder (still active in some form).

Fella further widened his gaze into the realms of avant-garde audio while simultaneously developing an obsessive label output as the proprietor of Gilgongo Records, producing records for noise titans like John Wiese, among many others.

Bet money that Fella won't be slowing down anytime soon, having already produced four releases since the turn of the year, one of which is a massive lathe-cut double-LP box set that includes two 90-minute cassettes along with a full-color zine and poster. It's a project he labored over for more than two years. Let that, if anything, speak to the level of commitment he possess.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >