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39
3.5 out of 5 stars
Metal Machine Music
Format: Audio CDChange
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2012
This is the type of 'music' that robots will listen to once they've taken over the world in a few hundred years. The creation is simple. Reed turned his recorder on full, turned his amp on full and slammed his guitar on the floor and basically left it to reverb for as it took him to make his Sunday roast. He then used the results from that to make an album. My ears still feel the effects, every now and then i feel like i'm picking up a radio message from a jet fighter over Hong Kong.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2010
I'll expand on the technical side, since information is scarce (and only available on the disc menu rather than the packaging). I have the Blu-ray version and the 24bit / 96khz resolution has been used for the Stereo and Quadraphonic mixes. You need a modern AVR to play these with the right HDMI connections. A third option is available which offers the surround in Dolby AC3 4.0 but that doesn't specify whether the sound files are 24/96 - I assume (and hope) they are. It's a standard video Blu-ray Disc so you need a screen to navigate the disc - the menu image remains static throughout each track. I'd guess the DVD (which is DVD video and NOT DVD-A) has the same specs (though it may be 48khz) and this is just offering alternative formats. It's region free, so no compatibility problems.

I compared the new version to the original stereo vinyl. Which was interesting. Oh... and both benefit from playing loud. The 1975 vinyl is actually way louder (which makes comparisons difficult when you have to adjust the volume constantly) - it's a fierce beast more visceral, less cerebral, which is my fancy way of saying more balls, less head. That original stereo vinyl mix is less cluttered and has more attack. However, that makes it harder to listen to - it's almost too simple and intense. The surround (and 4 channel 'stereo') is subtler and more akin to a sonic bath than a shower.

The music? For convenience, let's just stick with sonics. In all the reviews I've read no-one has referenced Neil young's 'Arc', yet I'd say that was the album closest in spirit to this (though much later). Guitar players can really fall in love with that random element called feedback! I never subscribed to the notion that this was an attempt to piss off the record company. There are other ways to do that. No, this is exploration and sincerely intentioned.

Oddly I HAVE played this record on many occasions since 1975. Not all four sides. Just random needle drops. That's because it provokes an emotional response in me. If you've had a bad day and are feeling coiled, then it's great to play loud and cleanse your conscious worries. You can't ignore it and get the mock soothing that background music provides - the absence of lyric, melody or rhythm combined with the sonic assault, allows me to turn inward, retreat and, strangely, feel pacified. The punk version of temple bells.

I've also heard the 'Metal Machine Trio's' album. It's very good but is a very different beast - more conventionally musical. Bet it's great live as well. The conclusion is that if you like Lou Reed for music like 'Perfect Day' then steer clear of the rocks and avoid this. If you're a more adventurous Mr. Ulysses, then get tied to the mast and you may just allow a different siren to bleed through your ear-plugs.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Played at special moments this piece of sonic violence captures something carefree, visceral, could not care less, a rumbling blast of nihilism, like watching white noise build up when the TV finally closed itself off, back in the 70's. And what's more this gets right up the prig noses of prim little rockists, those who want to have their tinny little lives structured by some great music fuhrer.

One great slab of pulsating noise - it is so offensive and due to this it captures the spirit of something that transcends its peculiar origins.

Joke or serious, these slabs capture nihilism, the bleakness at the end of the night, like the Beatles Revolution Number 9 initiated another sound revolution. Lou did this album to escape a contract and finally place his finger into the sphincter of the "man". It is a revolutionary drone.

Fed up with listening to rap being blasted from the house next door as the squatted street disintegrated, I rigged up the bass amp plus the bins to a CD of Lou Reed's most desolate piece of sound. Finally locking the door I left the house. The sounds ripped through the building rippling the walls and floor with a throb. The whole house pulsated

Walking away I sat and had a coffee in the local park. I could hear the shrill pierce of Metal Machine Music vying with the thudded bass of the hip hop as it all blasted outward into a mash.

Revenge; as Lou noted, never sounded so good as the noise of the universe blasting itself into an empty chasm.
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on 26 February 2014
I've given this album 4 stars for its importance. It's considered to be Lou's most unlistenable album, but I'd tend to give that title to some of the tripe he produced when he wasn't really trying, like "Rock and Roll Heart". I also find "Lulu" difficult to listen to, because it's so nasty, although I wouldn't describe that as tripe.
Metal Machine Music, which I hadn't heard until I bought it (well, you wouldn't, would you?), is an important album in the history of music, all music, and thus deserves a high star rating. That said, it isn't an album I think I'll listen to a lot, although it works well randomised with other, completely different, music. Therefore I took one star off.
So, to sum up, important but not necessarily likable. I'm going to listen to it again though, in full, shortly.
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66 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2001
There's no two ways about it. Lou Reed did this to annoy people. And if the stories are to be believed he succeeded mightily. He took the concept of LaMonte Young's drone pieces, which in comparison sound like pop music, and took it to an illogical extreme. No instruments. Just a bunch of guitar amps cranked up to eleven so that the feedback created some of the nastiest harmonics known to man. And yet if you sit back and let it wash over you these potentially nasty harmonics become almost musical. Not a million miles away from Velvet Underground classics Sister Ray and European Son, or even Like A Possum from Reed's last album Ecstacy (go back and read the reviews). There's an almost operatic quality to it that is shared by all great improvised music - periods of apparently not much going on suddenly enlivened by moments of pure glory.
Now I accept it's not for everyone. I first heard it in about 1982, and was pretty much convinced it was a joke. In fact I was almost certain that all four sides of the original LP were exactly the same. And it was undoubtedly the worst thing I'd ever heard in my life. The stories of people buying the latest Lou Reed album (remember that it was released in 1975 while Lou was pretty much at his peak) getting home, putting it on the turntable for thirty seconds and then taking it back to the shop were legendary, and didn't seem entirely unreasonable. Who'd want to listen to listen to 64 minutes and 4 seconds of noise? Nineteen years later I certainly do. I accept thats it's not for everyone. But if you have any musically adventurous bones in your body you must hear Metal Machine Music at least once. You might regret it. But you'll never forget it.
Just make sure there are no dogs in the room.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2008
Okay so some reviewers hate this album and others love it, what's going on here. Well let me explain. This is Lou Reed trying to break out of a corner her had found himself in on a rapidly accelerating treadmill of fame and success. He had just released Lou Reed Live, his 5th album in two years, from the perspective of today when two albums in five years would be considered prolific you can see how much pressure he was under. He was just messing around with the idea of recording using only feedback "...just for fun..", it was never intended as an album session. So if people as it sounds completely self indulgent then it probably is, but it was not recorded with the intention of release.

Faced with this wall of noise when listeners might be expecting Perfect day one can understand people who were a bit to thick to take the cues from the cover, or indeed read the reviews, were a bit shocked by what they heard. This is not music in the traditional western sense of the word and many people hated it.

Those who let themselves become immersed in the noise, which is a strangely relaxing and nurturing feeling, then start to hear the subtle internal variations in the sound. This is where the true genius of Metal Machine Music lies. Part I has a lot in common with Robert Fripp and Brian Eno's Index of Metals on the Evening Star album. This is like some of those white noise womb sound tapes that some of my friends used to play to get their infant children off to sleep but for adults. It can actually work for this purpose too!

If you want Lou Reed songs then don't buy this album but if you want to challenge yourself to the rather scary experience of being overwhelmed by noise so that you will either have to switch it off, go mad or surrender to the liberating sensation akin to entering a trance, then this is the album for you.

You may feel taken in and still hate this album but it's a bargain and you should challenge your ears once in a while give it a go and you may love it. If you do manage to get through this then try Towering Inferno's Kaddish.
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on 18 April 2014
I bought this because the reviews were so frightening. An hour of feedback? It can't be just that can it?

It can!

Fab but it is not going to leave you humming the tune or soothing the baby to sleep.

Play it when:

a. you are in the mood
b. you have guests and you want them to go
c. you want to annoy your partner
d. you are driving down a posh street with the windows down and you want to be anti-social
e. or if you just love guitar feedback and can't get enough of it
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2011
Instructions :

1. Drink 10 cans of Super Tennents or lager/cider with high alcolholic content of your joice
2. Smoke some extremely potent large joint of Superskunk or any substance which native american tribes would use for religious ceremony.
3. Make sure your immediate neighbours (300 yards should be OK) are not around
4. Use audio equipment with at least 500W output and connect at least 4 speakers (do not use on IPOD, heaphones etc)
5. Wear sunglasses and a leather outfit and take on the position of Lou on the cover in the middle of the room
6. Press Play
7. Once you come round discuss you experience on facebook, twitter etc
8. Write a review on Amazon and broadcast the whole thing on You-tube
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on 7 June 2015
A forerunner of noise rock. I don't consider this as music but simply as sound (or noise). If you can tolerate unbearable noises for over an hour, then this is a good choice for you. Otherwise, better save your money. Though this record has become a cult classic, I really doubt how many people would listen to it more than once in their whole life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2013
Many people mistake this as some sort of early hardcore noise record. It's not, and Lester Bangs was wrong to suggest that it takes a kind of "masochism" to listen to it. That kind of an experience would usually require an almost unpleasant grittiness to the sound, and/or a certain dissonance. If it was created with that intent then it absolutely fails when compared against an extended visceral tidal-wave like "Pulse Demon".

Instead Reed released into the atmosphere light yearning drones and perfect harmonies trailing on to infinity (literally in the original Vinyl release), conceived via an indeterminate classical approach with a rock aesthetic. The end product is tremendously hypnotic and inspiring. It's also too complex to absorb consciously in it's entirety, which gives it a rather non-intrusive feel.

As for the "no skill" argument, I couldn't care less (although I think there is a certain conceptual skill in any case). There are many things in life and nature that can be enjoyed which don't have an internal human "logic" guiding them every step of the way. This kind of music for me is the equivalent of those things (waves crashing on the beach etc).

Music to just surrender to and experience.

EDIT:

I didn't realize while writing this review that Lou Reed has died.

RIP.
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