The American Heritage Dictionary
defines "noise" as: "Sound or a sound that is loud, unpleasant, unexpected or undesired." The term "noise band" (though nowhere to be found in the American Heritage Dictionary
) carries some of those abrasive connotations, but connoisseurs of the genre posit that these ensembles mold cacophonous tones into transcendent compositions. Most of St. Louis' best-known "noise/experimental" groups play progressive yet palatable songs, with grooves and melodies to guide listeners through their labyrinthine structures. The Conformists, ten-year scene veterans from Belleville, take a more extreme approach. Rather than execute, say, a soft-loud dynamic shift, the quartet alternates lengthy stretches of near silence (no vocals, brushed drums) with full-volume outbursts (shouts, drum rolls, jagged riffs) that seem exponentially louder because of the quiet buildup. Rather than constantly shifting time signatures, the Conformists adopt skipping-record cadences that prove far more jarring. Currently waiting for the release of Three Hundred
, its second full-length album, the band has a single gig (November 25 at the Creepy Crawl) on its fall concert calendar.