I had found it. I was nervous. I had heard about this before. Quite honestly I was terrified, but I had to know. I moved the mouse over.......I clicked.
Suddenly an eruption of noise came through my speakers. I didn't wince. I didn't laugh. I just sat there. There I was mesmerized by an insane piece of art called Metal Machine Music Part 2.
People give this album a lot of shiit. This is quite reasonable. The majority of the public at the time probably didn't want to hear feedback-manipulated melodies, backed up by screeches and explosions. Yes it's true. This album is 64 minutes of feedback, looped, cut up, played back at different speeds and tunings. The music is a true tour de force with a hazy, sort of rushing piece filled with sound and glaring feedback, that travels in a spontaneous and unpredictable nature. This album was not "Walk on the Wild Side" Lou Reed, nor was it a pretentious Lou Reed trying to piss off the record company(contrary to popular belief). Lou was taking a lot of drugs at the time and he decided that he wanted to capture just how far he could take his experiments with feedback, which had been present since the first velvet underground record.
This record makes me relaxed. I consider this ambient music. Of course it doesn't sound anything like Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, or Neu! But it operates like ambient music. There is no particular part or instrument that is the main feature of the song. Rather several different sounds work together to create an obscure, yet pleasant piece. There are noises drifting in the background that add atmosphere and texture. There aren't movements or sections that define the song, but rather sporadic moments that gently affect the listener. The music kind flows back and forth through one's head. It's entirely without structure, but to quote Brian Eno it is "music as immersion, a sonic experience in which you float" almost his exact words on the record. I guess the main different between the two men's experimental offerings are that Brian Eno used synthesis to create something mellow and calm, while Reed used feedback to create something abrasive and in your face.
In a lot of negative criticism this album gets, people mention that it's a drag to listen to the entire thing as a whole. Of course it is! To listen to this entire album in a row would be stupid and boring and ridiculous. Lou Reed can't listen to it all the way through. To keep the record exciting and fresh, it is meant to be taken in doses ranging from 10 to 30 minutes at the most.
I can't really describe the individual pieces. This record is one whole piece of madness, which in a way represents both its genius qualities and its flaws.
Here are the problems with the record.
1. There is no diversity throughout the tracks.
2. The album is represented in an intimidating way. Four 16 minute tracks. Nothing but feedback. Geepers.
3. I can only listen to maybe two tracks in a row at the most(though there are only four songs).
4. It can get grating and very boring at moments.
Things not to worry about
1. You can do other things while listening to this album. You can do your homework, read, sleep, ignore it. Just don't sit down motionless and play the thing, expecting to be enlightened. That's not what it's about. I mean the music is great, but it can't be intellectualized. It works quite effectively as background music/white noise.
2. This album is not frightening. This is something commonly believed and it's about time that it should be debunked. If anything you will find it boring, not scary.
It's tough to really explain why I enjoy this record. If you had to ask, it's because it takes pieces of semi-melodic noise and turns it into an onslaught of uncompromising and unidentifiable sound that flows at this constant rush. It sort of mesmerizes me. This wall of sound truly can create quite a nice day dream. The second time I listened to this record, I tried to sort of let my inner, sub-conscious self be released. But that approach is bullshiit. The album has a spacious feel, because it simply can't be related to. It's great for playing when in a bad mood, because it absorbs into you and temporarily empties the brain. It can be trance inducing or it can be completely ignored and it's completely up to how you are feeling while listening. But it always works. This album is meant to be what true art is supposed to be. It is an album to be experienced. Whether it clicks with you or not is completely dependent on your musical personality.
It's actually quite a simple album really.