John Cage - Experiments with "chance" (1950's, 60's)
"4'33"", was one of the most forward-thinking composers of his time, relying less on the rigid score and incorporating any unexpected found sound into the piece. For Cage, anything that was a sound was music, be it prepared piano, radio static, running water, his audience's laughter, or indeed apparent silence. Cage has often been cited as an influence on later noise musicians, as his redefinition of music reverberated throughout the twentieth century, and is still a major cornerstone for music study today. Below check out the grainy clip of Cage performing "Water Walk" on the show I've Got a Secret, from 1960.
The Beatles - "Revolution 9" (from The Beatles (The White Album), 1968)
"Tomorrow Never Knows"), sustained chords and "orchestrated chaos" ("A Day in the Life"), nothing is quite as "out there" as The White Album's "Revolution 9", the band's longest, most challenging and "scariest" combined effort. Well by "combined" I refer to the credits, but "Revolution 9" was specifically John Lennon's brainchild, fresh from recording Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins with Yoko Ono, herself an acquaintance of Cage and Young. The responses were, as one might expect, mixed: Paul McCartney wished to have no association with it. Genius or madness, it's one of the ballsiest statements of the Beatles career.
The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat (1968)
Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power Iggy Pop Mix (1996, original release 1973)
The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy (1985)
"Upside Down", and their debut album Psychocandy is regarded by many to be a classic, cited as a precursor to shoegaze, Britpop, and later British indie.
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation (1988)
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)
"You Made Me Realise" single marked a change in the band's style from straightforward, twee indie-pop, few would have predicted the outcome of their first studio LP. It became perhaps the first of a genre later known as shoegaze, a highly-amplified and distorted version of Phil Spector's "wall of sound", with a more "alternative" feel, owing to influences from Sonic Youth to Dinosaur Jr.. As many British indie bands decided to release shoegaze records of their own, it was up to MBV to reassert themselves as originators of the movement. After a lot of time, effort and expense a sequel was released in 1991. Loveless was more than anyone could hope for, and is frequently described as one of the greatest albums of the 90's, so much so that the band have yet to release a follow up in the 20 years that have followed. Probably because they've realised they're unlikely to beat it.
Boredoms - Super æ (1998)
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
The future of noise and drone (2000-
Yeah, perhaps too easy a way to finish off the list. But to choose one band to represent 21st Century noise and drone would be a real injustice, as the influence they've had upon independent music in particular is incalculable. The last couple of years alone represent decades of change in the diversity and experimentalism of these types of music. No Age combine more traditional noise rock with power pop song structures. Sleigh Bells have taken it to bratty dance-punk. Deerhunter have recently done the opposite, subverting their former noise sound into "ambient punk". The electronic soundscapes of Oneohtrix Point Never, as well as Daniel Lopatin's work with Emeralds rely on synthetic drones, as do Fuck Buttons; whereas drone metal band Sunn O))) create terrifying, very "real" drones using just guitars and huge stacks of amplifiers. Colin Stetson has found a way of exploring noise using traditional instrumentation, namely saxophones, purely by being inventive and skillful. The vast number of lo-fi recordings over the last few years can be directly attributed to noise rock. And one of the biggest indie rock releases of recent times, Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion may have been "too mainstream" for some, still was miles more experimental than anything it shared its chart position with that year.
Attitudes too have changed towards noise as its spread has increased, no longer perceived as the refuge of the oddball music fan and the masochist as they once were. The examples listed are sufficient reason in themselves why. They are the results of the innovations and inventiveness of the minds who perceived and enlightened new ways of composing, recording and performing music. In turn new musicians are likely to innovate and produce strange, harsh, dissonant and unconventional sounds in the future in new ways. Which is proof, if ever needed, that today's music scene is as great as it has always been.