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, January 31, 2012


Artwork: From the MOONSHAKE LP/CD "The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow" (1994)

Published January 18, 2012


At the multiplex, there was an encouraging diversity of styles. “Captain America” cleverly included a 1940s USO musical number that was hilarious (and heartfelt) by songsmiths Alan Menken and David Zippel. Herzog’s surprise 3-D crowd-pleaser “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” featured a wonderfully weird score by Dutch cellist Ernist Reijseger. Terrence Malick, a director with a history of great soundtracks, brought us “The Tree of Life,” which requested audiences to enter a poetic world of sounds and images. Its composer, Alexandre Desplat, has a growing list of inventive scores from “Birth” to the Harry Potter finale.

A strange companion to “Tree” is Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia,” which feels like its darker twin with a similarly oblique vision. “Melancholia” presented one of the most shocking and beautiful moments in many years, scored by Richard Wagner’s prelude to “Tristan und Isolde.” Keeping with his provocative tendencies, the director then almost punishingly repeats this lovely music. Thanks, Lars.

Michael Giacchino continued his prolific partnership with J.J. Abrams on “Super 8” (a robust homage to Spielberg’s films and John Williams’ music) and created the rousing orchestral tribute to Lalo Schifrin for Brad Bird’s super fun “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” The most overlooked action masterpiece of 2011? Joe Wright’s “Hanna” featured a brilliant score by The Chemical Brothers, full of dreamlike collages and distorted beats.

Many independent or low-budget films had incredible music, often utilizing the filmmaker’s talent for digging up the perfect track. Joe Cornish’s “Attack the Block” was the surprise of the year, fusing an awesome premise with humor and social commentary. It worked in classic beats from KRS-One, Basement Jaxx and Richie Spice, and orchestral dubstep by Steven Price. “Drive” perfectly blended Euro-pop songs (eerily sounding like actual 1980s recordings) with Cliff Martinez’s synthesizer atmospheres. Martinez found the perfect tone for Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” (avoiding melodrama and apocalyptic bombast). The pulsating rhythms propelled the film without emotional tricks, accompanying dedicated scientists fighting to save the world.

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” featured a masterfully paranoid suite from Alberto Iglesias. “Win Win” scored with fuzzy jambox rock and a new song by The National. “Beginners,” an absolute triumph for actor Christopher Plummer, had the best use of “house music” as a story moment and featured sweet selections like Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” As for “A Dangerous Method” (score by Howard Shore), “The Muppets” (songs by Brett McKenzie of “Flight of the Conchords”) and “War Horse” (music by the innovative John Williams), I can’t wait to see them. “The Artist,” “Pina” and “Tin Tin,” too.

Versatile and intense actor Michael Fassbender arrived in several great films. “Jane Eyre” had elegant string arrangements by Dario Marianelli, while “X-Men: First Class” rocked a retro/spy feel. Steve McQueen’s unsettling and powerful “Shame” mixed NY nocturnal pop and aching modernist classical. Weirdly, both “X-Men” and “Shame” borrowed from Hans Zimmer’s “The Thin Red Line” soundtrack. “Take Shelter” examined ordinary life and 21st century dread, with a song by Ben Nichols of Lucero and creepy ambience by David Wingo. “The Descendants” captured family drama in beautiful, painful detail, and its Hawaiian setting inspired songs by many celebrated local musicians. Martin Scorsese’s sweet and wonderful “Hugo” showed the whimsical side of radical composer Howard Shore. Scorsese also released the George Harrison documentary “Living in the Material World.”

What will 2012 sound like? While I’m brutally excited for “Prometheus” and certain Dark Knight and Avengers films, it’s also great to imagine the emerging young directors and composers. With new films by Mary Harron, Wes Anderson, Alfonso Cuaron, Genndy Tartakovsky and John Hillcoat, we’re in for a damn good year.


P.S.: Thanks to Moonshake for this column's title, and Ryan Patterson for movie research.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FAVORITE FILMS of 2011 (gallery) *please click the first image below to start the slideshow

*Okay, this photo was too cool to pass up... Summer, get here soon!

*Another incredible image from The Tree Of Life

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mike Mignola ~ CRONOS artwork

Mike Mignola, the amazing writer/artist behind the HELLBOY comic book series, created this poster for the 2010 Criterion remaster of CRONOS.

Cronos is a wonderfully strange & original take on vampirism by Guillermo Del Toro (who also made the excellent Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, Blade 2 and, full circle alert, two Hellboy films)

Just wanted to share a cool image that also reminds us how many aw'some things can happen when longtime friends work on projects together.

clip: http://www.criterion.com/films/27534-cronos

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Published : August 24, 2011

GIL SCOTT-HERRON : Your Soul and Mine

“Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see,
That without dust the rainbow would not be.”
—Langston Hughes

Musician, poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron passed away on May 27, 2011. He created an urgent hybrid of jazz, soul and blues that was unusually farsighted, earning him the titles “The Godfather of Rap” and “The Black Bob Dylan.” While not entirely comfortable with any label (preferring the musical description “bluesologist”), his uncompromising lyrics and powerful beat-heavy tracks inspired artists like KRS-One, Public Enemy, The Clash, Eminem, Outkast, The Roots and Michael Franti. He fearlessly addressed racism, corporate greed, apartheid — topics rarely discussed in popular music in the ’70s. The legendary tracks “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and “Johannesburg” (the latter co-written with gifted composer Brian Jackson) are full of frustration, humor and humanity — and still sound incredibly current. His novels and vocal performances drew inspiration from fellow revolutionaries The Last Poets, and his songs combined the raw honesty of the blues, the muscular funk of James Brown and the lyrical urgency of Allen Ginsberg and Langston Hughes.

Gil Scott-Heron belongs in that rare group of songwriters that expand our consciousness: Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield … yet his battle with addiction, legal troubles and a struggling career almost silenced him in the ’90s and early 21st century. Thankfully, he was prolific leading up to 2010, when he released the album I’m New Here, a critical success. Wildly diverse, the album was a chance for new audiences to directly connect, considering his early music was so liberally quoted and sampled by fellow innovators like Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Black Star and MF Doom. He recently had two early novels reprinted by Canongate UK. In their book review, The Washington Post remarked, “Gil Scott-Heron has been committed to examining those facts of the human condition that most of us would rather forget … he is an artist who has crafted witty but crucial insights for Black America.”

I spoke with Matt Anthony, host of WFPK’s “Friday Night Sound-Clash,” about Gil Scott-Heron and the current artists carrying on his mission.

LEO: You’ve played Gil Scott-Heron on your show quite a lot. It’s hard to overstate how ahead of the time his music was … the lyrics are so confrontational.

Matt Anthony: I did a retrospective, and I chose to go with 30 minutes. I didn’t know if listeners could handle it for a full hour … still, even now. So, I did just a half-hour … and the response was overwhelmingly positive. I was like, “There I go … underestimating people again.” People are really catching up to Gil Scott-Heron. We’re just now getting his music a quarter of a century later — “Oh, now I see the art and intelligence, and I’m not just frightened by it …”

LEO: I first heard his Greatest Hits around ’88. It’s wild that his music could resonate with a suburban kid in Louisville.

MA: Yeah, he just transcends. When the definition of treason is expanded — when speaking against governments, accusing them of war crimes or profiteering or racism is treason, you need someone to speak up. So you have comedians and musicians step in and tell these “stories.” The comics are like “I’m just joking,” musicians are like “It’s just a song,” and they get a slight pass in our country. I just did a show about Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso; they were kicked out of Brazil for their music, exiled for a year. Sometimes the musicians get it, too.

LEO: There’s a strong lineage from Gil Scott-Heron to bands like Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy. Talking about things that couldn’t get coverage, cutting through the artificial boundaries of conventional news and media. I really can’t think of another song in 1970 as provocative as “The Revolution...”

MA: Oh, it’s still completely relevant.

LEO: Are there musicians carrying that political tradition right now?

MA: Blitz the Ambassador — he’s doing some real creative things … Mos Def … Talib Kweli, of course. It’s all about people telling raw truths.

To hear selected tracks by Gil Scott-Heron, visit www.gilscottheron.net.


Published : July 27, 2011. Illustration by Nick Cave (lyrics from "The Carny")

Maybe tomorrow, a new romance, no more sorrow, but that’s the chance you gotta take if your lonely heart breaks.
—Roy Orbison, “Only the Lonely”

Songs help us process moments of importance, celebrating our collective experience and aspirations. We ask music to provide a living soundtrack: a good beat to dance to, stentorian marches to rally our spirits, amorous suggestions for our lovers and even sonic junk food.

We also need music for the darker parts of our lives. Sad songs help repair the wounds of lost love, tell the story of personal sacrifice for political ideals or the intimate struggle for personal identity. Almost every culture has shared its story through music — the endless variety of style, genre and language is fascinating. We deeply connect with “Amazing Grace,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” We seek Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” to remind us of our emotional determination. The enormous changes of the last 60 years have been chronicled by music. People of every background have shared their most intimate fears, hopes and regrets in song.

Sorrow found me when I was young,
sorrow waited, sorrow won.

—The National, “Sorrow”

Sometimes we can sing about things that are too difficult to say. People were shocked to hear Roy Orbison perform “Crying” in 1961, because men did not often talk about such things. Can you imagine a world without Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” or Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces”? These songs are more than entertainment, they’re a life raft. Legends like Umm Kulthum, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Cesária Évora, Billie Holiday, Caetano Veloso, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley and John Lennon have enormous impact on people’s lives. In many cases, their ballads (or religious work) touch listeners at their deepest core.

Rap music, despite its bravado and verbal virtuosity, chronicles tragic emotions, whether it’s The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Suicidal Thoughts” or “The Return to Innocence Lost” by The Roots with poet Ursula Rucker. The shock of noisy bands like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins gaining ’90s mainstream fame was enhanced by their introspective recordings, be it Kurt Cobain’s lonesome version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” or SP’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Underground heroes like Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Diamanda Galas and Swans defied expectations with ballads. Codeine shocked audiences with powerful down-tempo dirges, followed by the haunting vocal harmonies of Low. Louisville’s Slint practically invented a genre, veering from antiseptic heavy jazz on their first LP to the intensely personal second album Spiderland. Its centerpiece, “Washer,” managed to use restraint, volume and tender lyrics to devastating effect, despite the prerequisite gripes of Bad Religion T-shirt-wearing teens in the audience. Soon, Will Oldham would provide solace with raw and elegiac song stories.

Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No.3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) became an unexpected commercial breakthrough in 1992. Performed by soprano Dawn Upshaw, the composition memorialized the lives lost in the Holocaust. Much like the reaction to Shostakovich’s breathtaking 1960 String Quartet No. 8(“dedicated to the victims of fascism and war”), Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, audiences experienced real catharsis.

The ’80s Goth scene gave many scowl- and cape-wearing teens a way to release frustration and conquer self-hatred. Radiohead, Massive Attack and Portishead followed The Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus, This Mortal Coil and The Smiths to explore dark terrains with stygian humor and dystopic lyrics. Closer to home, the excellent bands Wilco, The National, My Morning Jacket and Arcade Fire released albums that radiate pain, decency and sturdy perseverance. Lyrics about lonely suburbs, desiccated cities and the challenge of real communication struck a nerve.

I’ve acted out my life in stages, with 10,000 people watching. But we’re alone now and I’m singing this song to you. — Donny Hathaway, “A Song For You”

Despite the amazing progress we’ve made toward a more tolerant, pluralistic society, there’s still no shortage of heartbreak and conflict. Perhaps we can take comfort in the fact that someone is out there, creating a song right now to help see us through.