The Ten Best Noise Tracks of 2012

Categories: Lists

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When noise began to co-opt my listening preferences a decade ago, my primary complaints with the genre mirrored my primary complaints with hip-hop: a dearth of promos and advance notice, and a general reticence on the part of label chieftains to keep lines of communication open with the music press.

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A decade later, the game has changed; noise is literally everywhere, and how much of it a listener absorbs is dependent on one's free time, hard drive space, and tolerance for prolonged exposure to ear-spraining scree. (Ditto with rap: heads don't even need a credit card to vibe all year long anymore. Everywhere, mix tapes!) The scene is doggedly international, multi-gender, and temporally omnivorous -- which means that questers can get down with as much Infected Signal, REACHING., or How I Quit Crack, as they please -- or browse into eternally via interactive treasure troves like the Free Music Archive or the Tabs Out podcast series -- but, at the same time, resources like Noise Arch allow for gnarly Way-Back Machine journeys that demonstrate that fucking shit up beyond all rational measure with a recording device rolling is as timeless a pursuit as any other.

There's simply so much diversified mayhem on offer right now that it's difficult to get too bent out of shape about the handful of well-meaning yet recalcitrant purists who confine everything to cassette or vinyl. What follows are SOTC's favorite 10 noise cuts of 2012, along with some honorable mentions. Inevitably, of course, this list will be completely irrelevant in a year, as Soundcloud rabbit-hole diving and Bandcamp raiding unearth noxious gems -- gems that are typically issued single-file, rather than in album-grouped clumps -- that 20 clued-in revelers are wilding out to as I type.

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