Sunday, February 2, 2014

Figures of Light Feedback Music Fascinates With A Flood of Controlled Chaos

Feedback may seem like an intro or ending for songs and concerts. For some bands it’s a way to produce a good deal of noise and for others it’s a way to experiment with creativity. Modern bands like Sonic Youth, Refused, and even Drawn Close have played with this notion, but they are not the first to attempt it. Figures of Light pulled out the electronic music vibe back on January 24, 1971 when the original members of the band Wheeler Winston Dixon, Michael Downey, and Phil Cohen presented a concert of feedback music at Brecht West Theater in New Brunswick, NJ, pushing the limits of what was thought to be music, and perhaps embarking on one of the first pieces of controlled chaos in live music history.

Figures of Light takes the sound of feedback and shoves it through a kaleidoscope recreating the 50 minute opus on their disc “Feedback Music”. Punkers seem to miss the fact that the absence of rules is what drives the moniker, even though a lot of music writers and fans will grimace at the notion of electronic feedback music, instead of 3 chord repetitions and snotty vocals. The spirit of anarchy is placed into what may seem like anarchy on this Figures of Light release, and it’s very much an impressive thing to hear. You’ll have to put your mind into a different place, because it’s like nothing you’ve heard before, a purely experimental take on music, without borders and without compromise.

For those that may be thinking Lou Reed’s 1975 release “Metal Machine Music” did the experimental feedback thing first, you’d be wrong, because the guys in Figures of Light did it 4 years earlier and pushed the limits. Had the tapes from the concert not been lost, this could’ve been one of the major talking points in music history, or at least in the history of noise, punk, and experimental music. Better yet, this IS a major talking point for audiophiles, so take note.

On “Feedback Music” Dixon and Downy recreate the concert experience with different tunings on the guitars, pattern shifts, and creating a layer of sounds that you will definitely find to be creative. The deluge of noise knocks you down after around 5 minutes of listening, and flows through 50 minutes of what some may very well find to be the most compelling piece of art and music ever put to media.

This modern classic was recorded at Barrel House Studios, engineered by Chris Boecker and Zacharry Cokeley. It features mixing by Wheeler Winston Dixon and Chris Boecker, original members of Figures of Light and the guitarists that create a semi sonic cool flow on this release.

You can get the record on FOL Records via amazon, iTunes, mp3 download, and a cd. Check out the video below and turn it up, so you can get a taste of this experimental musical madness that is found on “Feedback Music”. It’s guaranteed to be your favorite electronic album, as it’s the most creative thing you’ll hear all year. Bank on it!

Figures of Light - Feedback Music (Excerpt) from Figures of Light Archive on Vimeo.
A recreation of our 1971 all - feedback concert. Figures of Light was an American music band founded in 1970, which disbanded in 2015. This channel features some of their videos as a permanent archive. Check out our website at

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