No No New York


New York Noise: Art and Music From the New York Underground
By Paula Court
Soul Jazz

No Wave
By Marc Masters
Black Dog Publishing

I’ve just written my first-ever piece for the Village Voice, a dual review of two new books about No Wave and the downtown NYC scene in the late 70s/early 80s.

New York Noise is a companion volume to the excellent Soul Jazz No Wave series called, coincidentally enough, New York Noise. (Funny how that works, isn’t it?) It’s a fun book —basically an archive of downtown photographer Paula Court’s work from 1975 to 1988. In addition to being the official photographer for the Wooster Group, she also happened to have a zillion connections to the punk, No Wave, and party circuits —all of which overlapped a lot more in those days. So the book is a multivalent, colorful reflection of the many strands of downtown life at the time. Reminiscences from artists, musicians, writers, dancers, and filmmakers round it out.

No Wave is Marc Masters’ long overdue, exhaustive secret history of a movement that wasn’t a movement —or, as Dark Day’s Robin Crutchfield put it, “it was a wave that didn’t ride in on a wave. The sound wave was jarring, uncomfortable. It didn’t soothe the soul or lull one into a sense of security. It may have taken elements from other musics, but torqued them in a way that bore little resemblance to the original.”

Music-wise, I’m posting a fun little No Wave mix done by crack Glaswegian DJ team Optimo. You can read their very personal take on No Wave here here, including a track-by-track breakdown of the mix.

The short version goes something like this:

• Mars, “3E”
• DNA, “You and You”
• Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, “Freud In Flop”
• The Contortions, “Contort Yourself”
• The Fire Engines, “Get Up And Use Me”
• Blurt, “Puppeteer”
• Tools You Can Trust, “Show Your Teeth”
• Sonic Youth, “Shaking Hell”
• 8 Eyed Spy, “Lazy In Love”
• Pulsallama, “On The Rag”
• Arto / Neto, “Pini, Pini”
• Y Pants, “That’s The Way Boys Are”
• ImpLOG, “Breakfast”
• Jill Kroesen, “Fay Shism Blues”

If you’re curious to investigate some No Wave (and there’s a slew of great reissues out there), there’s a great new Fire Engines comp Hungry Beat, courtesy of the fantastic Acute. (Their back catalogue is filled with all sorts of overlooked gems from groups as diverse as Theoretical Girls, Ike Yard, The Prefects, and Metal Urbain.)

The fantastic Downtown 81 soundtrack (which features John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Rammellzee, Lydia Lunch, Suicide, and Tuxedomoon, among others) has just been re-issued, along with the film. In addition to three excellent volumes of Soul Jazz’ New York Noise compilations, Ze has a few of their own, including Mutant Disco and NY No Wave.

MP3Optimo, “Optimo No Wave Mix”



Rediscoveries | I.




  1. Nice job, Andrea! Congrats on breaking into the Voice!

  2. thanks for the plug…I’m also pretty psyched about all these new bits of No Wave merch. There’s also the Thurston/Byron photo book to round out the collection. See here:

    • Thanks for that link! I hadn’t stumbled across that blog before, but I’ll be sure to add it to my sidebar.

      The Thurston/Byron book is going to be interesting. I’m really looking forward to it. I contributed a (very) little something to the book —so it’ll be nice to see how it turns out.

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