No Wave was a short-lived but influential art music and art scene that thrived briefly in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s alongside the punk subculture. The term No Wave is in part satiric wordplay rejecting the... [more]
No Wave was a short-lived but influential art music and art scene that thrived briefly in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s alongside the punk subculture. The term No Wave is in part satiric wordplay rejecting the commercial elements of the then-popular New Wave genre. The term also highlights the music's experimental nature: No Wave music belonged to no fixed style or genre.
In many ways, No Wave is not a clearly definable musical genre with consistent features. Various groups drew on such disparate styles as funk, jazz, blues, punk rock, avant garde, and experimental. There are, however, some elements common to most No Wave music, such as abrasive atonal sounds, repetitive driving rhythms, and a tendency to emphasize musical texture over melody. No wave lyrics often focused on nihilism and confrontation. No Wave is often better defined in terms of the artistic environment in which it thrived and the character of performances typical to its context. No Wave performances drew heavily on performance art and as a result were often both highly theatrical and minimalistic in their renditions.
Also during this time, there was a period of No Wave Cinema which was an underground film movement in the East Village. No Wave filmmakers included Amos Poe, John Lurie, Vivienne Dick, Scott B and Beth B, and led to the Cinema of Transgression and work by Nick Zedd and Richard Kern.
No Wave had a notable influence on noise and industrial bands who formed after, like Big Black, Lev Six, Helmet, and Live Skull. The Theoretical Girls heavily influenced early Sonic Youth, who then emerged from this scene by creating music that eventually reached mass audiences and critical acclaim. Also for new bands like Liars, Ex Models, Neptune, Erase Errata the influence of the No Wave scene was important. The Brian Eno-produced album No New York is perhaps the best example of this genre, featuring songs by Mars, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, DNA and The Contortions. [show less]