Streets of Gold: Powerviolence and Existentialism, 10 November 2016

Duncan Therkildsen Jones graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (University of Sydney) in 2014 with a Bachelor of Music Studies (Honours) in Flute Performance. He is currently undertaking ethnomusicological research of the Sydney Trad. Metal scene with his Speed Metal band, Fenrir with whom he has published the album Loki’s Slaughter and is investigating the manner in which individual metalheads interpret Heavy Metal music. His current Masters thesis examines how ethnographic investigation, including joint composition and listening may be used to construct frameworks of close musical analysis which more closely reflect the interpretive habits of Sydney metalheads.

“There are some ideas too extreme for music.” – Luke Pooley

Powerviolence is a flexible and experimental genre. For Luke Pooley and Jerry El-Kahale, of Frame 313 this environment allows them to be experimental not only with music, but with their ideas. This paper will focus on their LP Streets of Gold, an album that explores the dread of existentialism. As the thematic material shifts from the trauma of dying and death and towards the anxiety of what lies beyond, so does the music shift from Powerviolence into experimental noise. This shift incorporates stripping the familiar and in order to create a soundscape no longer grounded in common musical or cultural anchor points. Discussion of Streets of Gold with Jerry and Luke reveals how a shift in perspective is essential in understanding the LP. To analyse such noise in more familiar modes of semiotics or spectrogram analysis would entail the very act of projection that Streets of Gold finds so contemptible: to force interpretation upon something indescribable will only lead to a fantasy of control rather than a true wrangling with nothingness. As such, this paper will explore production as a means of expression within the album, and how the nature of the production of Streets of Gold provides a meaningful panacea to the existential dread which it articulates.