from The NY Times

All Those Sounds From the Stage: Processed, and Not Always Pretty

Chad Batka for The New York Times

Lou Reed performed with his group, Metal Machine Trio, at the Blender Theater at Gramercy.

It was good to have this Lou Reed back: not an American Master nor a Legend of Rock, but a barking, brooding, beneficial irritant. On Thursday night at the Blender Theater at Gramercy, onstage between Sarth Calhoun and Ulrich Krieger, two much younger musicians, he was making noise — improvised, loud, heavily processed, and some of it ugly enough to make people leave.

Not many, though. There were extra-musical reasons to stay put. An emotional reason: he’s Lou Reed, poet of New York City, et cetera. And a big intellectual reason: Mr. Reed calls this group Metal Machine Trio, which refers to a notorious double-LP he made in 1975. “Metal Machine Music” is a kind of personality test. Many average listeners, even average Lou Reed fans, heard it as long-winded, discordant feedback.

You couldn’t really rely on Mr. Reed to tell you how to feel about it, either. He’d had a hit record the year before — “Sally Can’t Dance” — which he didn’t seem to love. He seemed to propose “Metal Machine Music” as corrective honesty, almost clinical, as if he’d hooked up a mixing board directly to his neurons. “No one I know has listened to it all the way through including myself,” he wrote in the record’s liner notes. “I’m sorry, but not especially, if it turns you off.”

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