Wednesday, February 27, 2008

from a 2002 Reader Piece

Music Notes: whoever makes the most noise wins

Author: Liz Armstrong Date: November 22, 2002
Appeared in Section 1

Growing up in quaint, historic Fairfield County,
Connecticut [Tim Aher says]. "…I spent a lot of
time in my room woodshedding on the guitar and
listening to metal."

In his senior year of high school he found
salvation on IRC, a clunky on-line chat forum
where he met other self-described "lonely teenage
guys," striking up a particularly close
friendship with one named George Moore. They
bonded over music and their mutual hatred of
school and decided to start a band. When Aher
went over to Moore's house for the first time, he
saw a ton of records by groups like Whitehouse
and Acid Mothers Temple--bands he'd never heard
of. Moore told him his uncle Thurston (yes, that
Thurston Moore) turned him on to almost all of
the experimental music in his collection.

Aher and Moore, and later Moore's younger
brother, started rehearsing as the Duvet Cover,
switching off on guitars, electronics, and drums.
They played in basements and coffee shops to
like-minded kids from IRC channels, and felt
triumphant whenever they got kicked out for
making an intolerable racket.

Currently in his third year of linguistics
studies at the University of Chicago, Aher's also
filling in as program director at WHPK, the
school's radio station, for a friend who's in
London for the quarter. He says he was initially
attracted to noise and experimental music because
it alienated unsuspecting passersby in the same
way he'd felt alienated in high school. Once he
moved here, however, he realized there was a
community based around what he loved; he saw
"people having fun and acting silly at the
shows." Now he wants to share his noise
addiction--what he calls a "corporal
pleasure"--with as many people as possible.

Earlier this year he started putting on shows at
the U. of C. "It's good for the university," he
says, "because it makes them look hip, and
they've got a big stake in that, especially right
now, because they're trying to expand the college
and not have everybody be socially inept." But
his idea of the best way to socialize the school,
it seems, is to get everyone involved in some
sort of antisocial activity. A few months ago,
when his "improv psych" band, False Sex, played
at a party, one of his friends threw a garbage
can through the wall and Aher body slammed a band
member onto a couch full of girls. Later, when
someone asked him what his "deal" was, he
replied, "Don't you get it? It's an excuse to act retarded."

Aher's latest project is this weekend's Festival
of Marginalized Subgenres, featuring New York
sheet-metal bangers and body slammers Cock
E.S.P., California whizzbangs Mummers (Eype), and
Ohio superserious darkwavers Burning Star Core,
as well as local acts Panicsville, Behold! The
Living Corpse, Vertonen, Winter Carousel, and
others. At some point in the evening, the music
will stop temporarily and Chris Sienko, director
of WHPK's Radio Dada program, will host a
discussion--ostensibly on identity and the
politics of noise music, but who knows--with
Spencer Yeh of Burning Star Core and video artist
Adam Chao. And since, says Aher, "in actual panel
discussions they have dissenting opinions," he's
invited his friend Jonathan Edward
Couperthwait--who doesn't like and doesn't know
much about noise music but "has a really
distinguished-sounding name." The all-ages show
starts at 6 PM on Saturday, November 23, in the
third-floor theater of the University of
Chicago's Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th. It's
free; call 773-702-8289 for more information.

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