New York is a noisy place: subways, sirens, taxis, incoherent crazy people yelling at you on the street. For many musicians living here in the 1980s, it was even noisier: a time when crime, poverty, and urban decay pervaded the city, especially downtown.
Or at least that’s the narrative that has survived in cultural memory; it certainly is reinforced by a lot of the so-called "downtown" music that survives as the musical record of new york in the late '70s and early '80s. This episode is going to focus on noisy music that reflects a noisy world: a kind of one-to-one exchange. Though it may be a sloppy metaphor, much of this music expresses a kind of energy that is definitely reinforced and made stronger by tough circumstances. We'll focus particularly on the universe of musicians surrounding John Zorn, including Zorn himself, and numerous collaborators: EYE, Ikue Mori, Fred Frith, Eugene Chadbourne, Mike Patton, and more, with a slight detour into No Wave artists such as Arto Lindsay and DNA.