Lasse Marhaug: The Shape of Rock to Come

Lasse Marhaug: The Shape of Rock to Come
Smalltown Supersound (2004)

About two weeks ago I saw Lasse tear the roof off the Northcote Social Club while he was in Australia. Smashing up salvaged metal, stamping on pedals, manipulating tapes in an old silver walkman, rocking back and forth on his stool like a mental patient before eventually standing up and running around his table of equipment, raising his arms and screaming at the molten lava exploding out of the PA. Lasse confidently built up a blizzard of fried sine waves and damaged scree, bringing smiles to the faces of every nut case around him. So hypnotic was his cacophony that at some point I suddenly realised I was swaying to some imaginary beat, like I was at a rock show. My guts were churning. I felt disoriented after the show (I was sober!). It was fucking awesome.

Lasse is the master of giving form to noise. He has an innate sense of atmosphere, dynamics and drama that perhaps comes from his work creating ‘sound’ for theatre projects and contemporary art projects. Everything in his noise has its place, nothing is wasted. He makes abstraction that’s both terrible and beautiful. If you can’t find the opportunity to see him do this in person than I strongly recommend finding a copy of his classic album, The Shape of Rock to Come.

You won’t find a noise record capable of drawing you in the way this one does. It kicks of with a stifled thrum and then manoeuvres its way through a diverse sound world; factory floor crunch, upper register scuzz, loop-de-loops of Black Metal haze, sand blasted drums, rotted electronica and straight up walls of imploding noise. What’s most fascinating about The Shape of Rock to Come is Lasse’s ability to shift between these elements with subtlety and grace, like some DJ seamlessly blending beats and melodies. There’s none of Merzbow’s sharp turns on here, and any sudden surprises that Marhaug does throw in are cooly calculated. All part of the Master plan.

In interviews Lasse talks about the beauty he sees within noise, and it’s that attitude which has made him one of my favourite noise artists, if not my all time favourite. The conceptual deconstruction of ‘music’ takes second place to the magic and unknown within abstract sound and the places it can take you. It’s a grand statement to name an album after Ornette Coleman’s ground breaking free-jazz classic, but Lasse can back it up. This is a fucking great record.

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