5 Essential No Wave Albums
Throughout music history, there have been countless music genres that have come and gone, with some being more notable than others. Of these genres that have faded in history, no wave is an avant-garde music and art scene that emerged in the late 1970s in New York City. The genre erupted as a response to the current mainstream wave of punk rock recycling rock and roll cliches by utilizing experimental tones through noise, dissonance, and atonality.
The genre typically encompassed an abrasive, confrontational, and nihilistic worldview through it’s lyrical and musical motifs. The term for the genre arrived as a pun against the rejection of 1970s new wave music. Down below will highlight 5 essential no wave albums, all of which are worth checking out regardless of how deep your experimental music taste is.
1. Swans – Filth (1983)
Throughout this website, I’ve discussed the importance of Swans and their musical genius throughout the 21st century. Prior to this century, Swans was a major part of the no wave and noise rock scene in the early 1980s. Filth is looked back on as a significant part of no wave and rightfully so.
2. Various Artists – No New York (1978)
No New York was a compilation record from the label Antilles under the production and lead of Brian Eno. Similar to Swans, I’ve written countless times about the genius of Eno and it especially shows on this staple of an album from the no wave scene. The album features 4 tracks each from Contortions, Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, Mars, and D.N.A.
3. Sonic Youth – EVOL (1986)
Although Sonic Youth is more often associated with experimental rock and noise rock, early in their career the group was largely a part of the no wave scene. Considering they formed during the emergence of the no wave scene, it makes sense why their early work encompassed this genre. Their third record, EVOL features an implementation of noise rock, post-punk, and no wave.
4. Mars – The Complete Studio Recordings (1977-1978)
Similar to many other no wave groups, Mars didn’t have a lot of high-quality recordings available for mass consumption. Still, the group’s three-year career from 1975 to 1978 is best captured in their compilation album, The Complete Studio Recordings.
5. Glenn Branca – Lesson No. 1 (1980)
Lesson No. 1 is the debut record from avant-garde musical pioneer Glenn Branca. Branca was originally a member of no wave group, Theoretical Girls, but began to play solo shortly after. The record features minimalism with the ethos of punk rock throughout the album. It’s a great record and an important part of no wave history.
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