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Extreme Music

From Silence to Noise and Everything In between

by (author) Michael Tau

Feral House
Initial publish date
Oct 2022
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price

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Expand your aural and sensory experiences with Extreme Music. An exploration of tomorrow’s sounds (and silences) today.

Michael Tau had spent years obsessed by the extremes of musical expression. Extreme Music: Silence to Noise and Everything In Between is the culmination of decades of research into the sounds (and silences) that comprise the outer limits and conceptual expressions that stretch the definition of music. Tau defines and categorizes these recorded sounds into sections that allow fans and newcomers to explore the fascinating world of musicians who defy convention. He explores a wide range of extremes including volume, speed, and vulgarity to packaging, recording methods, unplayable media, outdated technologies, and digital pioneers. He asks and answers the questions: Are all sounds music? Is silence music? Is a plate of rotting food once cataloged, packaged and sold by a distributor qualify as music?

Extreme Music includes over 100 interviews with makers and musicians as Tau uses his background in psychiatry to help readers understand what motivates people to create and listen to non-mainstream music. As a fan of multiple avant-garde musical genres, Tau uncovers the pleasures (and sometimes pain and frustration) found at the outré fringes of music.

Extreme Music is the ideal guide for curious seekers, die-hard fans, and cultural investigators. Features images and curated links to samples of music.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Michael Tau was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. As a teenager, he was introduced to bizarre and adventurous music via the after-hours CBC radio program, Brave New Waves, which he recorded onto cassette to listen to the next day. In university, he attended noise shows in lofts in Montreal’s quasi-industrial districts, to the detriment of his hearing. He has since written for numerous underground music publications and has authored several music zines. When he isn’t listening to the Merzbow boxset, he works as a physician.

Editorial Reviews

"Extreme Music deserves extreme documentation, and Michael Tau is more than up to the task. There's so much to confront–and be confronted by–in the nearly 350 pages he's written, a dizzying compendium of wild sounds, strange sights, radical concepts, and hidden histories. Oh, and also bodily fluids. If you're into any art that pushes limits until they shatter, you'll be into Extreme Music."Marc Masters (No Wave (Black Dog, 2007) and Hi Bias: A Distorted History of the Cassette Tape (University of North Carolina Press, 2023)

"Just finished reading Extreme Music, and found it to be very entertaining and informative--there were a number of topics addressed that are near and dear to my heart: the Noise stuff (I'm actually friends with a few of the folks interviewed), and the obscure/obsolete recording formats. The extreme metal stuff I'm not that familiar with, so it was interesting to learn how far it has splintered into subgenres The Black Midi stuff was fascinating, I was completely unaware of its existence--I was intrigued that someone had formulated "rules" for what makes a good black midi brought to mind Conlon Nancarrow's compositions for player pianos! There’s enough topic breadth to replace a whole bookshelf of academic works! Would definitely recommend!"



Dan of Earth, infamous Milwaukee noiser



"Having spent 15 years seeking out, soliciting, and publishing about bizarre, odd, and extremely unusual music, Extreme Music nevertheless is a portal to an incredible metaverse that I knew had to exist and which I had yet to plumb. Owing to the ease of further research via the Web, this seemingly small tome is sure to send you — as it did me — into googles of wormholes to learn more about the overwhelming aural discoveries disclosed in this must-have music reference."Randall Fleming, MetroHop Books