Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1600 20211120T1650 America/Chicago Rock and Metal AMS 2021
_Presence_ and Dys-Appearance: On the Eeriness of Led Zeppelin's Late Style
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 22:50:00 UTC

This paper will show the importance of eeriness in Led Zeppelin's late style. Musicologist Stephen Loy locates Zeppelin's late style in the introspection and complexity of its 1976 album _Presence_. Yet he excludes consideration of live performances, which band members, fans, and scholars have argued is Zeppelin's essence (Loy, 2019). Unlike the austere _Presence_, the 1977 North American tour routinely saw 3 hour shows despite guitarist Jimmy Page's heroin-compromised playing and singer Robert Plant's leg injury. This is decadent Led Zeppelin. The introspective character of _Presence_ results from what philosopher Drew Leder calls _dys-appearance_: how bodies in pain withdraw into themselves, away from the external world (Leder, 1990). Just as _Presence_ is marked by absence _of_ Zeppelin's usual abundance, so is the tour marked by an absence _amid_ abundance. This confusion exemplifies what Mark Fisher calls the _eerie_: the sense that there ought to be something where there is nothing, or nothing where there is something (Fisher, 2017). The eeriness is most clear in Page's 15-minute guitar effects solo. Less a piece of its own, it consists mostly of instrumental sections from other songs played in an order. The solo can be placed on the opposite end of the spectrum from _Presence_: The former sacrifices compositional unity for diversity while the latter sacrifices diversity for compositional unity. When taken together, the eeriness of late Led Zeppelin becomes apparent. More broadly, bringing the nature of live concerts into account may provide a more holistic understanding of Led Zeppelin, one that departs from the usual hagiographic writing around the band so evident even among scholars.

Charles Wofford
University Of Colorado At Boulder
Digitally Re-Inscribed Brutality: A Media Archeology of Death Metal Drum Replacement and its Ambiguous Reputation
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 22:50:00 UTC

Growing research on timbre and production in extreme metal (Mynett 2016, Wallmark 2018, Williams 2018, Herbst 2020) acknowledges that its superhuman-sounding drum performances are the result of digital sample replacement and editing. Likewise, the highly processed "Florida sound" of Morrisound Studios in Tampa, is recognized the origin of this "hyperreal" drum sound. But the problem solved by Morrisound, and its claim to fame (or infamy), remains poorly understood. What material resistances had to be overcome to digitally replace ultra-fast blast beats on analog tape, years before the advent of the ProTools cut-and-paste paradigm? Why did the digital signature (Brøvig-Hanssen 2016) of this imperfectly perfect process prove controversial?

First, based on interviews and hardware specifications, I excavate the analogue-digital studio bricolage used to automate drum replacement on Morbid Angel's Blessed Are the Sick. Considered an early nadir of overproduction, the album secured the band a short-lived major label contract. Building on the media archeology of Wolfgang Ernst, I reconstruct the operative diagrammatic an automaton that re-performed an analog drum take with digital samples onto a new track in real-time. While resembling cybernetic Heyde diagrams (De Souza 2017), my diagram focuses on time-critical complications, such as MIDI latency and the spooling of tape. The documentation of the distributed agency between producer, drum performance, and automated re-performance, I argue, is revealing in itself: By describing the automation in detail, producer Tom Morris deemphasizes his agency compared to the later cut-and-paste paradigm. The embodied musical time captured on the resistant, linear medium of tape authenticates the use of samples, even when overwrite the contingency of physical exertion with the undulating imprint of the digital symbolic.

Secondly, I focus in on the "noise" created by this set-up: As access to digital "performance enhancement" was still unevenly distributed, the digital signature of Morrisound's imperfect digital perfection sparked controversy. From black metal's turn towards lo-fi production to persistent anxieties around human labor being replaced by machines  the disruption of the digital revolution still resonates in metal's archive and generic distinctions.

Florian Walch
University Of Chicago
The Worst Genre of All Time?: The Racial Politics of Nu Metal in the United States Metal Scene
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 22:50:00 UTC

In a 2020 interview, the co-founder of Linkin Park, Mike Shinoda, revealed that he believed that metal felt "too white" until the genre of nu metal developed in the late 1990s. Nu metal is a fusion of musical features primarily from heavy metal and hip-hop. Despite its undeniable popularity, with multiple nu metal bands' albums going platinum, it was earlier called a "skidmark" and "the worst genre of all time" by the same metal publication that interviewed Shinoda. Many in the metal scene would tend to agree. Laina Dawes points out that nu metal rose during a decade in which metal had been declining in popularity alongside the rising success of hip hop; because of this trend, it was upsetting for metal fans to see these two genres combined (2016). Does the negative backlash against nu metal, a genre that draws from historically Black musical genres, further contribute to the perceived racialization of metal music as white? 

This paper examines discourse within the United States metal scene about genres like nu metal, particularly in terms of its borrowing from rap and other historically Black genres, and how negative reactions to nu metal reinforce metal's "white racial frame" (Feagin 2009). Additionally, I examine the pigeonholing of Black metal musicians into subgenres derived from Black musical traditions such as rap metal and funk metal. To explain how metal musicians and fans view nu metal, rap metal, and similar genres, this paper draws on analyses of online metal webzines and blogs as well as other archival materials with a wide array of target audience demographics. I also include insights gained from interviews I have conducted with members of the Washington D.C.-area metal scene. By examining fan discourse about the value and authenticity of metal genres that are heavily influenced by hip hop and funk, I explore how ideologies about race are developed among metal scene members and I expose the covert discourses about race circulating in a scene that marginalizes its BIPOC members in the United States. 

Meghan Creek
University Of Maryland, College Park
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Chicago
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Denver
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