The Internet is a wonderful thing. Case in point, among other truly exciting innovations, the ability to talk to and work with anyone and anywhere has enabled the Miserable Noise Club experimental music collective to collaborate from all over the world.
The group consists of Abood Ashqar (synth/electronics/guitars), WJ (guitars), Left (guitars/electronics/percussion), Mark Lee (guitars/electronics/percussion), Neon (guitars), Zhan Hua (guitars) and Shaher Majali (guitars), hailing from as wide afield as Charlotte in North Carolina, Guangzhou in China and Amman in Jordan. Together they offer up an intriguing combination of various forms of experimental rock.
The band shared Monolith, from last year’s EP Given To Heartache, with us. It opens up with big drums and echoey guitar before a fuzzy riff comes in, then the sound completely switches up as the drums and repeating guitar continues. It’s a delightfully atmospheric track with all manner of cool instrumentals going on throughout. Give it a listen here:
We had a chat with Abood to get the lowdown on this intriguing proposition. Read on below…
GR: You’re an international collective from all over the world; this sounds really cool! How did that come about and how do you go about creating music together?
AA: “It started in the States around 2012. I’d recorded a few tracks and was doing a couple of shows in North Carolina. The following year I relocated to China for collaborations and other music-related work. So I kinda sat on it for a while. A few years later I got invited to perform at an event in Guangzhou. I got in touch with W J from If Signifying, and he recommended Left from Lèng to join us.
“Soon after that performance, Left recommended Mark Lee, producer and owner of Royal City studios. He also teaches at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou. Neon and Zhan Hau joined for a performance the following summer. I recently got in touch with Shaher Majali in Amman, Jordan. We’re long-time friends and we performed together in Desperar over a decade ago.
“All members perform and record with other bands and projects. I guess we make music together whenever any of us are together, with mutual understanding. Everybody can choose any instrument, play it however they feel suitable, and contribute to the sound and recording process with any idea or suggestion. Left played the bass with a drumstick on some tracks. So there’s that.”
GR: Which three words would you use to describe your music?
AA: “Gorgeously manicured sunset.”
GR: Lovely! And how would you describe the Miserable Noise Club sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
AA: “We are an experimental group and we value creating new soundscapes and atmospheres, but not necessarily for the sake of experimentation. Throughout our discography, you’ll hear Noise-rock, Post-metal, Ambient, Drone, Dub and even Techno. As random as it seems, everything is structured and presented with a calculated and predetermined audible purpose. It’s just music. We improvise during our live performances, and certain tracks sound different live than the original recordings.
“I’m gonna quote some feedback that we received throughout the years, and I’ll leave it here… ‘enigmatic, brilliant, boring, interesting, repetitive, phenomenal, amazing, a bit too simple, tickles my ears, way too noisy.'”
GR: Quite the eclectic mix of feedback then – but not all music is for everyone’s ear, I guess. What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
AA: “Everything we do is based on a concept or theme in one way or another. The track Noriko, Let’s Go Home is a narrative-driven track, it’s a journey about personal-identity, social alienation, and how it affects the relationship between family and home. It’s based off a movie called “Noriko’s Dinner Table” directed by Sion Sono.
“The track Subpolar Cluster Sculpture” is a sound experiment. We tried to create a thick, claustrophobic, oppressive atmosphere and that is what the title is referring to. It’s basically a study. It does vary depending on what we want to convey, whether it’s a narrative or a sound concept.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
AA: Arvo Part, Nobuo Uematsu, Jami Sieber, Martin Stig Andersen, Michael McCann, Cliff Martinez, Nujabes, Marconi Union, Massive Attack, Tinariwen, Agalloch, Elend, Abul Mogard, Izumi-Kai, The Caretaker (James Leyland Kirby).
GR: What have you got coming up through 2019?
AA: “We’re playing a couple of shows in the Middle East this summer. We have a few new single tracks and an EP coming up by the end of the year. And we’re preparing for a short tour in East Asia and the UK for the beginning of next year. Hopefully.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about Miserable Noise Club?
AA: “We’re not miserable, we don’t really make noise music, and we’re definitely not a club. Seriously though, we’re an open collective, we don’t have any set members. If you like what you hear, feel it, and would like to contribute and join for a collaboration or a live performance anywhere, anytime, regardless of your musical background, skills and preferences. Get in touch with us, we’ll work something out.