Metal Machine Music

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Metal Machine Music, subtitled *The Amine β Ring, is an album by Lou Reed. It was originally released as a double album by RCA Records in 1975. It was reissued on a single compact disc by BMG in 1997 and again by Buddah Records in 2000.

As a radical departure from the rest of Reed's catalog, Metal Machine Music is generally considered to be either a joke, a grudging fulfillment of a contractual obligation, or an early example of noise music. The album features no songs or even recognizably structured compositions, eschewing melody and rhythm for an hour of over-modulated feedback and guitar effects, intricately mixed at varying speeds by Reed himself. In the album's liner notes he claimed to have invented heavy metal music and asserted that Metal Machine Music was the ultimate conclusion of that genre. The album made Reed a laughing stock in the rock industry while simultaneously opening the door for his later, more experimental material. Historically, Metal Machine Music is now considered a seminal forerunner of industrial music, noise rock, and contemporary sound art.[1][2]

In 2010, Reed, Ulrich Krieger, and Sarth Calhoun collaborated to tour playing free improvisation inspired by the album as Metal Machine Trio. That same year, Reed announced his plans to re-release Metal Machine Music in remastered form.[3]

Contents

Style

According to Reed (despite the original liner notes), the album entirely consists of guitar feedback played at different speeds. The two guitars were tuned in unusual ways and played with different reverb levels. He would then place the guitars in front of their amplifiers, and the feedback from the very large amps would vibrate the strings — the guitars were, effectively, playing themselves. He recorded the work on a four-track tape recorder in his New York apartment, mixing the four tracks for stereo. In its original form, each track occupied one side of an LP record and lasted exactly 16 minutes and 1 second, according to the label. The fourth side ended in a locked groove that caused the last 1.8 seconds of music to repeat endlessly (as had been done on John Cale's recording of Loop as a flexi-disc accompanying an edition of Aspen in late 1966). The rare 8-track tape version has no silence in between programs, so that it plays continuously without gaps on most players.

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