By Christian Schaeffer
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In addition to running a small experimental music label, Nathan Cook is an active performer who, since 2003, has been pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a noise artist. Noise tends to be typecast as the archetypical opposite of music, a harsh, loud and mostly unlistenable thing. Cook's own music bucks that belief, and his contribution as curator this year reflects that.
"Despite the name, it is a very diverse genre, encompassing characteristics and fragments of a range of styles from rock and classical to ambient and even techno, most recently," Cook explains. "Not all of it is loud, either." Cook brought the biggest change for Noisefest X: The Sunday matinee has been transformed into a visual showcase for six area artists — a Noisefest first.
"It's a focus that Noisefest hasn't had in the past, and since it is the tenth anniversary of the festival, I thought it would be fitting to have a special presentation as a testament to the outstanding experimental works of image and sound that these St. Louis artists have been refining over the last few years," Cook says.
Woods and Cook are certainly pillars of Noisefest, but there is one individual whom Sarich deems ultimately responsible: Chris Smentkowski of the seminal noise group Brain Transplant. "If it wasn't for Chris, I wouldn't even be doing Noisefest. He was the one who introduced me to the whole thing. He came to me and said, 'I want to do some shows. How do you feel about this?' I owe it all to him. Seriously. I owe him more than..." Sarich stops short, takes a deep breath and continues. "I booked my first show because of Chris."
Brain Transplant performed at the first Noisefest and will appear again this Sunday, one decade later.
Other performers include Ghost Ice and the Night Grinder, two individuals who have been named Best St. Louis Noise Artist by Riverfront Times. Genre veterans aren't the only ones invited — the heads behind Noisefest maintain the policy of inviting new and emerging bands. There is even an act, the Fluff of Murder, that will play for the first time in a live setting.
"After ten years of Noisefest, is it still as crazy as it ever was?" Sarich asks, rhetorically. "Well, of course! It's experimental; it has to be!"