[2011 in Review: Output:NOISE, 'A Soundtrack to the DSM-IV']

The Output:NOISE crew has never shied away from the application of conceptual structures to guide their improvisational-based performances and recordings. Their website explains that very often they will “arbitrarily divide the participating musicians into groups of three or four, giving each group a 15-minute time slot in which to develop a cohesive, synergic and compelling set.” In the past, this practice has often served as the defining characteristic of their shapeless– but somehow recognizable–sound.

The Upstate NY collective has taken this practice to a new level with their first professionally produced physical release, A Soundtrack to the DSM-IV. The DSM-IV of course is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and this soundtrack is a sonic interpretation of the ten disorders found on the DSM-IV. Those disorders—which also make up the song titles–include “Delirium,” “Narcolepsy,” “Catatonic Schizophrenia,” “Depression,” and (my personal favorite) “Pica,” whereby someone is compelled to eat non-edible objects.

Output:NOISE chief Jeremy Dziedzic explains that “Our aim in approaching this concept was to not only produce an environment that challenged our performers but, by having the performers put themselves in a mindset necessary to generate a convincing interpretation, give them a better understanding of the disorders that millions of people struggle with daily.”

A daunting task no doubt, but one that certainly produced interesting—although sometimes difficult—music to listen to. Numerous musical styles, including drone, noise, neo-classical, and others collide within the group’s larger improvisational structure creating a disorienting effect which does seem to make it easier for the “sane” listener to step outside oneself and take a cautions step closer to the insanity depicted within these recordings.

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Review by Taylor Waite


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