January 2012 - Hello! Thank you for visiting this site... a rather rag-tag batch of writing and rambling.
I'm hoping to use this “Public Noise” site for some random expression and freak-outs. It will also collect short articles and reviews I've written for the LEO city paper, Magnet & other publications. Thank you to all the folks who agreed to be interviewed over the last few years - and the editors that have given me a chance to contribute. All the best – JN

PS: I've been in a cancer treatment program since August 2009 and my wife and I have shared some of that story at this address: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jasonnoble/


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


“Displace One Note, And There Would Be Diminishment. Displace One Phrase, And The Structure Would Fall.”
—Antonio Salieri In Milos Forman’s Film Amadeus

Uzeda is my favorite rock band. This Sicilian supergroup brilliantly combine elements of punk rock, experimental noise and ancient Mediterranean rhythm. Every element works together in bracing harmony or deliberate discord, each band member functioning in true democracy. There are the influences of “Big Black, the Fall, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Paco de Lucia, Can, Tangerine Dream, Thelonius Monk, Billie Holiday and Robert Johnson” (from guitarist Agostino Tillota in an interview). This all makes sense when you hear their songs. There’s a sense of this music being created now, unique and unprecedented. And the sense of it being connected to a perfect moment, ancient, timeless. Raffaele Gulisano’s angular and percussive bass lines work in powerful tandem with Davide Oliveri’s intricate drums. Agostino’s indescribable static-blitz (metallic-spiderbite?) guitar sound fuses with the soaring vocals (and urgent whispers) of Giovanna Cacciola so well that it all seems to be coming from one body. All gushing aside, they just rule. I traveled with them on tour several times (as friend and roadie), and every night was full of such passion and rage that you’d think they’d eventually have an off night. But they never relented. They continued with incredible precision, and that’s such a part of their mission. They strive. They aspire. And they constantly offer this commitment to other bands, running an independent record store and arranging tours for fellow bands throughout Europe. They also offer this spirit to everyone they meet, as if the extreme raging and dissonance onstage frees them to conduct themselves with grace. It’s a clear, unselfish generosity that I’ve seen them share hundreds of times. These ideas are presented in their sound, in the poetic lyrics and their communal vision. They have a large discography, much of it recorded by Steve Albini (a longtime supporter and ally to the band). Albini has also recorded their other band, Bellini, which has an equally impressive collection of albums.


If you wonder what the best thing to ever be created for the object called “television” is, look no further. The Venture Bros. is the combined matmos-like sentient ooze of all recorded culture and pop history, including Jonny Quest, all 1960s Marvel Comics, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Alex Toth, Apocalypse Now and anything else that is awesome. I can’t describe it with human words, so please just watch it. I weep at its brilliance. And it has an original score by JG Thirlwell of Foetus fame. No show (animated or otherwise) in the history of human civilization is more hilarious, painful or well made. Go Team Venture!


So many of the best things in life are first shared in casual settings. Linton Kwesi Johnson‘s Dread Beat An’ Blood was played in the van while we were on tour a few years ago. Todd Cook, let it be said, has a rare gift for suggesting albums. As it settled in, we all started to realize that this was not some easily consumed dance jam, although there’s lots of great music that fits that bill and you could definitely dance to this record. The darkness and muscular playing, the sense of urgency—what was happening here? It all implied that something really troubling was taking place. As we caught certain lyrics (“It was a sound checking down your spinal column/Bad music tearing up your flesh”), the whole effect came into focus. Originally released in 1978 under the band name Poet And The Roots, Dread Beat An’ Blood is an album of political rage, an urgent request for social justice drawn in beautifully dark beats, sub bass and crystalline lyrics. The album was a collaboration between poet/journalist Johnson and Dennis Bovell, a producer and creator of London dub music. Bringing together many styles, including reggae and spoken-word performance, the album describes the harrowing struggle of black youth with the police in the U.K. In many ways, it foresees and blends elements of hip hop, electro and dubstep. This record definitely deserves a more insightful essay, but one suggestion is just to spend time with it and let it really entrance you. Subsequent releases of Dread Beat An’ Blood are filed under Linton Kwesi Johnson, but he did continue to collaborate with Bovell. Johnson still performs today and has received wide literary recognition. His collection of poems, Mi Revalueshanary Fren, was published by Penguin Modern Classics.

MAGNET ARTICLE #7: China Miéville

“The Spider That Eats Your Dreams”

China Miéville is a young British author who creates a bracing new type of anarchic fiction. His work mixes political ideas, horrifying tentacle-things, archaic technology and lots and lots (and lots) of grotesque and wonderful ideas. There’s a redness of tooth and claw that recalls Cormac McCarthy, Terry Gilliam, Godzilla, Giovanni Piranesi’s creepy architecture, the film City Of Lost Children, Alan Moore or anything that includes the best monsters you could ever imagine. While he’s considered a fantasy novelist, it’s really difficult to really say what genre to place his work. Steam punk? Dark fiction? Hard science? Adventure yarn? There’s a fairly strong noir/detective impulse as well. So with his marvelous “New Crobuzon” trilogy—set in a richly imagined and achingly complex world that Miéville created—he’s received serious fan attention and accolades. His work is such a jolt of raw creativity it’s both captivating and a little overwhelming. Perdido Street Station (2000) is the first in that series, and if you start there (and love it) you will be uncontrollably drawn to finish the other two books. It’s important to note that these stories focus on a painful—often fatal—personal struggle of languages and ideologies, and not only for human characters. This fantasy type is not bloodless or without hard consequences. Miéville has quite a lot of other work, set in all kinds of “almost real” landscapes, including shadow-filled cop procedural The City & The City (2009) and his current book Kraken (which has a fantastic premise and a very central giant squid). To travel with Miéville is to go willingly into a dense and raggedy universe of words, but it’s truly satisfying. My pal Todd and I have become fairly obsessed with his work, and it’s really exciting to see a new talent emerge with such vibrancy and purpose. To quote Jon Hawpe (of Louisville bookseller Carmichael’s), “You never know what’s going to be next with China Miéville. Each page you will face something new, like a spider that eats your dreams.”

RIYL: JG Ballard, pretending there’s a shark in your bathtub under the bubbles, dressing in a full Cylon outfit on days other than Halloween, know what a Velociraptor is, William Gibson, Bad Brains, the drawings of William Stout and anything else that is just plain awesome.


“Violent Colors”
Shannonwright has made a series of breathtaking albums, often featuring her playing most of the instruments and certainly possessed of her particular vision. She’s been a big part of the Touch And Go/Quarterstick family and has been able to navigate certain questionable elements of the music business with grace. Her live shows are well known for their ferocity and tenderness, and her work ethic is jaw-dropping. Her voice is free in the way that’s indescribable (one possible reference would be the octave-soaring Diamanda Galas or maybe the powerful Giovanna Cacciola from Uzeda). It ranges from a painful bloody rage to a healing balm (and back). Her new album is called Secret Blood, and it was released October 31 by Vicious Circle. I’ve had the good fortune to work with Shannon on a few recordings and seen her collaborate with numerous people in our musical peer group. I truly admire her work and her truly generous attitude toward other artists.


Alan Moore is an English author, philosopher, magician, comedian and seriously awesome human. He’s certainly one of the few household names in the comic-book world. (And to be honest, I’m kinda intimidated even trying to write about him.) Every moment of his work speaks to the creative fire in all of us—and speaks strongly for us to act more humanely, even if we happen to be a Lovercraftian beast with six arms that each has an ravenous reptilian mouth. Since his early work in the ’80s, he’s redefined the possibility of sequential art and storytelling (with legendary runs on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, V For Vendetta, From Hell) and is often credited with creating the mature audience/graphic-novel revolution (with the incredible Frank Miller). Oddly enough, labels are just about the worst thing to attempt with Alan Moore. At the peak of his commercial career, he dove into a serious exploration of magic, music, performance art and everything that the universe has to offer.

Defying expectations, avoiding Hollywood’s hooks and daring to question the very nature of the comics business (which functions a lot like the music biz) has made his mythology grow. (Incidentally, our pal Todd Cook looks a lot like him, which is real nice on long road trips and somehow comforts me.) Comics have always been a serious part of his output, and the work he’s created in the last 10 years is as good or better than any preceding successes. In 1999, he collaborated with a team of very gifted artists to create America’s Best Comics, a creator-owned line that operates with wild and wonderful abandon. There’s not space to describe the depth of humor, melancholy and sheer excitement that they packed into their titles. Very few modern publishers have captured the joy and possibility of comics like they do. Oh yeah, he initially wrote every title in the multi-book line, often managing huge stylistic shifts and experiments. In particular, Promethea, Top Ten and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen are masterpieces of any genre.

While the gooey caul of “guy who made comics dark and serious” has stuck with him, in truth, he actually tends to make stories of liberation, social satire and deep forgiveness. You can feel a strong belief in the power of creativity to defy petty despots and rule-makers. In Moore’s worlds, words are cherished and the disempowered are strengthened, often with the help of plants that can travel through space or pneumatic robots with bow-ties. The work he made early is his career was linked to free-wheeling counter culture (in great books like 2000 A.D.), and thankfully the man behind “mature” comics totally refuses to be a boring grown up. Novelist, shaman-like investigator, rock ‘n’ roller and friend to misunderstood monsters. Hell, yes! Check out Moore’s newest project. and visit Top Shelf Productions for updates and information on the forthcoming The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with art by the awe-inspiring Kevin O’Neill).

Here’s an excellent article about Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III Promethea by Douglas Wolk.

VELOCITY article (March 2010)

'Music Wins'

by Joseph Lord
Velocity / March 9, 2010

(excerpt - J Noble talks about his band history)

King G and The J Crew

This band started at duPont Manual High School with my friends Greg King and Jeff Mueller — who I've worked with since 1985 on almost every project I've done. We'd made a zine together for a few years and we all looked up to the local bands. Honestly, we made that band for a talent show at school and we had no idea we'd spend years working on rap music together. Our friend Alan Lett took pity on us and added “actually good” guitar playing to the songs. After we graduated we went off to school but music drew us back home. Later on, the very talented producer and engineer Aaron Frisbee stepped in to help us make an album — and it ended up taking nine months of our lives. Back then, it was Public Enemy “Fear of a Black Planet,” Skinny Puppy, Big Black, The Clash, The Police, Ice-T, 808 State — and of course Run DMC, who we saw live at Louisville Gardens in '88, which remains one of my all-time favorite shows ever.

I don't ever expect people to get into our music; I'm just happy if it connects. I think the fact that we were goofy white guys making rap music threw people and they may have seen it as fake or a knock off of Beastie Boys — but we genuinely love hip-hop, and I think that I learned more from that single album than any other.


Jeff and I were living with the folks from Crain in Old Louisville as we finished the King G album. Jon (Cook) and Tara O'Neil started playing with us, and we mutated into a rock band. John Weiss from Sunspring helped us continue and helped us write music that would eventually become “Rusty.” Kevin Coultas — who had worked with us on King G — became our permanent drummer, and we began to really tour. None of us had been around the country or overseas and it was a huge experience for us. I think playing live and being in the presence of truly amazing bands — Codeine, Bastro, Kinghorse, Slint, Crain — was the main inspiration for us. A desire to be good, to practice as much as possible was the central intention. Jeff and I had a lot less musical experience than our bandmates, and we had to learn quickly. I was listening to Crain's “Speed,” Slint, Philip Glass' “Mishima,” Screamin' Jay Hawkins and James Brown's greatest hits on cassette.

I am very thankful that people remember us and have remained interested. That band is very close to my heart and I can only say that … maybe that band benefited from its mistakes. I mean, there were many aspects of music that we just didn't know about and sometimes what you make, including jagged songwriting or making unpleasant sound, is very pure because you haven't edited the soul out of it.


In 1989 I met Christian Frederickson in Baltimore. He and Eve Miller were studying at a conservatory there. We all became friends and eventually did some recording together. I moved back to Louisville — getting involved with JCrew and Rodan — but we kept working together long distance. We didn't become an actual band until Rachel Grimes joined the project in '93, when she was still playing in the band Hula Hoop. Greg King and numerous rockers from Chicago became involved, too. Quarterstick Records gave us an opportunity to make an album and we have worked together since then.

It's funny because — with all these bands — there are very strong and different tastes in all the folks involved. And that seems to be a great thing. Contrast or cross-pollination or whatever is very, very good in my opinion. In the case of Rachel's: we all love classical music and experimental sound material. Philip Glass, again, was a huge inspiration for me. Gastr del Sol, Bill Frisell, composer Kevin Volans, Kronos Quartet. My single most played album in '92 may have been the Michael Nyman soundtrack for the film “Prospero's Books.” But I have to say that rock and rap music has always influenced Rachel's. I think hip-hop in particular makes me really question how to engineer and create songs. Hip-hop has advanced the way songs are recorded more than any genre, because DJs can draw on every style of music without getting hung up on tradition.

As with other projects, we were surprised and excited by the response. I think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Quarterstick. They gave us total freedom and support — which allowed us to grow without huge pressure to sell tons of records.

Shipping News

Jeff was living in Chicago and was approached to make some music for the NPR show “This American Life.” He kindly asked me to help him and we were like, “Hey, let's do this again and forever.” In the three years after Rodan we'd toured with each other — Jeff in June of 44, me in Rachel's — but had taken a total break from playing together. Kyle Crabtree made the project band into an actual band about three months later. We made our first record in a house on East Broadway then finished it with Bob Weston, who has worked with us on almost everything we've ever recorded. For years and years we courted Todd Cook, and we were amazed when he joined the band in 2002.

We're music obsessed, for sure. Including the bands above as influences, I'd also say Uzeda, Polvo, Moonshake, Evergreen, The For Carnation and Shellac all really inspired us. Tortoise, Tones on Tail, Public Image Limited. Man, it actually requires some diligence for us not to rip these bands off. We start every practice with an “open jam” and sometimes we realize it's turned into someone else's song. The only difference then is that we play it for an hour instead of all day. Music wins.