If One Noise Could Represent a Century…
(Note: my dark imagination got carried away here; it’s not really a blog that calls for optimism)
Whenever I hear two particular sounds they emotionally grip me so intensely, because they seem much more than sounds that embody a time; they sound as if all elements of an entire era were being smashed together at high speeds. These two sounds are the terrifying siren noise made by the German second world war plane, the Stuka, and the monstrous sound of the flamethrower (which one is most likely to be accustomed to hearing from footage of the war between Japan and the USA in the Pacific).
The period that sounds like it is being smashed together within these noises is, for certain, the first part of the 20th century, but I’d probably argue that those noises are almost a some sum total of the entire 20th century. The noises sound more futuristic than possibly anything that has come after; an horrific modern era, where all the hopes of modernism were being torn to shreds, landing us in a postmodern desert, abandoned by geography; when the rock music (a sound of freedom), that rose up and died in the stars that culture burnt to a cinder, was at its most violent sounding, it sounded like the noises of warfare from the first half of the century.
In fact the death drive of modernity, and the death drive of the fated rock stars (who were possibily fated due to their late arrival to the modernist project), is what these sounds almost seem to capture. They are darkly intoxicating noises to all generations born afterwards, who don’t really know where they are in time anymore. One could actually imagine the protagonist from A Clockwork Orange enjoying the sound of a Stuka on repetition. Sometimes it feels like the future did well and truly die in the 20th century. And these noises sound like its death.