Posted by: brad – Apr 09, 2014
If you like your music dissonant and cacophonous, sound artist John
Wiese will be performing live at Richmond’s Sediment Arts gallery this
Friday April 11th, in conjunction with RVA Noise.
While noise may not be the most accessible genre, Wiese seems to have
made a name for himself within the scene, boasting an impressive resume
with his grind/noisecore band Sissy Spacek
and his work with bands like No Age, Wolf Eyes, and Sunn O))). Although
Wiese has an extensive list of collaborations, his performance at
Sediment will consist of his solo work.
If you’re looking for melody in John Wiese’s work, you will be
disappointed. Throw away harmony and rhythm; this music is all about
sound manipulation, experimentation, and processed sounds. This is noise
music by definition, and Wiese’s work is a mainstay in the genre.
Luckily, we were able to speak with Wiese about his music and his
upcoming show at Sediment.
Wiese says he doesn’t really think of himself as a musician in the
traditional sense. Instead of writing notated music, Wiese works with
manipulating, cutting and arranging sounds. The end product is more like
a collage but nothing short of meticulous. Wiese’s music is dense, with
a variety of sounds ranging from minimal and mysterious to abrupt and
Wiese’s sees shows as being a momentary experience, and uses them as
an opportunity for further experimentation. He doesn’t plan on playing
anything previously recorded. He lets his music evolve and change over
time. Through this approach, every one of his shows are different. “Even
if I did try to play the same thing every night, I couldn’t,” Wiese
As far as his live setup, Wiese said, “Equipment has dwindled to
barely anything.” However, he says he prefers a minimal setup because it
give more focus to the ideas of the sound, and not the logistics. Wiese
elaborated, saying, “I think it's important to be super-free, and can
experiment and do anything that you want. I have very little interest in
making material that’s recreated accurately [live].”
Although Wiese’s approach may seem unmethodical, there is a level of
cohesion. Instead of arranged performances, Wiese relates his live show
to a form of improvisation. “I’m using a palette of source material and
sounds; but what comes out is based on in-the-moment decisions,” he
said. As far as his sound palette, Wiese's sound is still in the realm
of his last album, Seven of Wands. It’s an album full of dark eerie atmospheres, with moments of chaos but also bleak minimalism.
This is interesting, especially considering Wiese’s early influences.
Wiese said, “As a 14-year-old in 1992, Deicide’s first album was the
most insane thing I’d ever heard.” He dropped names of other metal bands
as well, such as Obituary and Suffocation. Looking at his various music
projects, it's no surprise Wiese is super into death metal.
Wiese also remembers his early memories of making sound collages and
noise tapes. He recalls recording on his friend’s four track what turned
out sounding like noise-core. It was something he had never heard
before. “I was living in the Midwest; I had no concept of a noise scene.
I had no idea that other people did this.” He started out just making
noise music for himself and his friends.
Wiese explained that his solo work is inspired by his solo shows, and
that his style is constantly and gradually changing over time. His solo
records serve as a way to track his progress and the development of his
sound. Wiese says, “I think of recorded music as an object, and live
music as much more ephemeral.”
In light of all of this, there's no doubt his performance at Sediment
Arts will be a unique experience. The show takes place this Friday,
April 11, beginning at 8 PM. Local support will be provided by
Broadcastatic and IGM. A suggested donation of $5-10 is requested. Sediment Arts is located at 208 E. Grace St. For more info, click here.
Words by Joseph Vargo