The Buzzcocks once sang, "Pretty, girls, pretty boys / have you ever heard your mommy say / Noise annoys." It's only fitting that Pete Shelley made sure to include the pretty girls. They're just as likely as boys to make noise that annoys.
When considering the noise scene, it's hard not to view it through a masculine lens. For decades, the experimental and noise scene has embraced aggro signifiers. Whether its being hellbent for leather, flirting with Fascist props and ideology, or using sexual violence as a lyrical dead horse to flog, noise can be a boy's club. A place where all the misfits with their Ministry and Boyd Rice records can congregate, take shitty acid, and see who can make the most ear-splitting noises with amplified power tools.
But like all stereotypes, it's an easy image to conjure up and an even easier one to dispel.
The history of noise and experimental sound art is rich with the contributions from women including otoacoustic composer Maryann Amacher, Throbbing Gristle's Cosey Fanni Tutti, electronics pioneer Daphne Oram, and Yoko Ono.
Those early innovators carved out a niche for female noise musicians that's grown substantially over the years. Some of the most interesting noise artists working today are women. Blending in different disciplines like performance art, New Age music, and spoken word into their harsh music, they're creating music that's just as likely to annoy their moms as their male counterparts.
One modern noise artist who's making ears bleed is PussyVision, who's scheduled to performing alongide several Valley-based women in noise at The Trunk Space on August 22.
Here are seven women noise artists you need to know — including PussyVision.
Born in Iran, Fari Bradley is an acclaimed and innovative sound artist. Working as a DJ at experimental dance nights and broadcasting on avant-garde radio stations, Bradley makes music that samples and re-contextualizes the world around her. She's the kind of artist who will turn the sounds of birds chipping on her window sill into a freeform noise jam.
In modern noise music, there's a thin line between beauty and brutality. It's not uncommon to hear experimental sound artists dipping into the rainbow well of New Age music, creating abstract instrumentals that are more likely to soothe your senses than bludgeon them. Arizona's E Alo is one such artist working in those extremes. A regular at noise and experimental shows, she also crafts music that can be tranquil, lush, and meditative.
Margaret Chardiet's Pharmakon project is probably one of the most high-profile noise acts in the scene. And for good reason. Her albums are dense, haunting collections of abrasive sounds and textures. It wouldn't be hard imagining the Cenobites in Hellraiser using her songs for their answering machines and ring tones.
Lana Del Rabies
Aside from having one of the best musician names ever, Lana Del Rabies has carved out a niche for herself as one of the Valley's most fascinating experimental artists. Whether opening for the legendary Negativland or making regular appearances at underground shows around Arizona, LDR's eerie video work and disquieting soundscapes are a show stealer.
In addition to being one of the driving forces behind "post-industrial" band Factory Floor (who've been quietly making some of the 21st century's best sinister dance music), Nik Void is also a collaborator with Throbbing Gristle members Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter. As Carter Tutti Void, the trio have crafted hypnotic and pulsing records that sound like New Age music for Satanic computers. And as a solo artist, Void's crafted music that straddles a thin line between dark pop music and experimental sound art.
Experimental artist Finey Janes performs as an alter-ego named Pussy. Combining spoken word with performance art elements (like masks and strange costumes), PussyVision plays music that mixes together harsh industrial noise with queer pop. Her oeuvre is engaging yet unnerving — her sounds and visions dare you to come a little bit closer and pay attention, while the vocals and gnarled noises emanating from the speakers are lacerating your senses.
Irene Moon doesn't "exist" much in the same way that GWAR aren't really marauding aliens. A character created by Katja Chantre Seltmann, Irene Moon combines exploratory bursts of noise with live Powerpoint presentations and weird getups. Possessing a deep love for entomology, Seltmann integrates live recordings of insect sounds, along with noises generated in laboratories and natural environments. Her noise music is the sound of science run amuck.
PussyVision and Lana Del Rabies will be playing on Tuesday, August 22 at The Trunk Space.