Is the secret of noise-rock to make as much noise as possible or to find beauty within the noise?
The Los Angeles-based duo of Dean Spunt and Randy Randall, who are responsible for the damaged cacophony of No Age, don’t have the answer, either. But with Weirdo Rippers, a debut album that comprises five previously released, limited-edition, vinyl-only EPs (each made for a different label, no less), they try like hell to find out, practically making noise a third member.
Using and often abusing extra-crunchy guitar — more squealing distortion than the instrument itself — fuzzy drums and deadpan vocals, Spunt and Randall explode, violently and uncomfortably, in their punk moments (“Boy Void”), then pass out by going all shoegaze (“I Wanna Sleep,” “Sun Spots”) a short while later. These explosions suggest the power of influence, as if playing like the Stooges on fire is so exhausting it can only be tempered by the molten sputtering of something that resembles My Bloody Valentine. (Fittingly, at its most inviting, No Age sounds a lot like the band that serves to bridge the Stooges and My Bloody Valentine: Sonic Youth.) But they also have a thrilling start-and-stop effect. This is one band — two people, at that — with a ton of force at its fingertips.
Noise is the focal point. It covers the album like a blanket of humidity, and even when there’s a cooling off, as happens wonderfully in “Everybody’s Down,” a motoring piece of garage-pop, No Age’s warped, thrashing art feels steamy, hallucinatory. It’s inescapable. But then again, so is the beauty.