Third Noise Principle – Formative North American Electronica 1975-1984 review: a vibrant compilation

Third Noise Principle - Formative North American Electronica 1975-1984
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Artist: Various Artists
Genre: Electronic
Label: Cherry Red Records

Considering the influence of US electronic music, not forgetting pioneers such as Terry Riley and Philip Glass, little has been heard of what this compilation's subtitle describes as "excursions in proto synth-pop, DIY techno, noise and ambient exploration".

This comprehensive four-disc collection features 60 tracks and a 10,000-word overview of the musicians and their place in the once niche scene. With inspiration developed from punk’s DIY ethos (but not the instrumentation), the tranche of musicians broke through long-established barriers to experiment with form.

While totemic musicians such as Riley and Glass furthered their interests in varying shades of minimalism, others consciously chose to bewilder and provoke. All expressions are gathered here.

From Riley's Across the Lake of the Ancient World (wonky brilliance) and Craig Leon's Donkeys Bearing Cups (spiralling krautrock) to Girls on Fire's Cat Vomit Punk House (ear-shredding art-dissonance) and NON's Mode of Infection (abrasive monotony), Third Noise Principle matches real skill with what sounds like people chancing their arms.


Nonetheless, whoever wrote the accompanying press release gets it right: say hello to “part primitive rave, part synthesiser porn, part history lesson”.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture