I'm listening to Merzbow right now. No lyrics. No key signature, melody, or harmony. Just head splitting electronic noise, roaring machinery, breaking metal, shreaks, squeals, and the sound of civilization destroying itself. It gives you a horrible headache, but eventually you learn to love the throbbing in your temples. It becomes a beatiful pulse, like an orgasm of anguish. It's a cacaphony that fractures the way that you feel about the world. Wasn't it Genesis P-Orridge who talked about "entertainment through pain?" When I first heard this stuff I didn't really "get" it, but I had a strange feeling that there was something interesting there. After you force yourself to listen to it for a while, the distorted trash becomes a soothing white noise. It scrapes the day's ravages from your mind and lets you finally fall asleep so you can wake up tomorrow for yet another day on this fucked up planet. One letter writer to Harper's (yeah, that Harper's) called Merzbow's work a brillo pad. I like that analogy. It's kind of like bathing in a tub of liquid lysol. It may burn a lot, but it really cleans that social junk off. Right now, unmitigated chaos is one of the only things I can sympathize with. The aural violence is kind of like a Deleuzian disjunct. It just shocks you out of your normal way of thinking and forces you to confront your basic attitude about what "production," "efficiency," and "art" even mean.
I read an interview once where Merzbow said that popmusic sounded like noise to him. I would definitely rather listen to grinding machinery than the cleaned-up, yet shallow, music everyone around me seems to like.