Metal Machine Music would be the worst album ever made if it was actually a conscious sincere attempt to make music. Interestingly, it hardly classifies as music. Considering music is, by definition, organized sounds, Metal Machine Music’s hour long industrial soundscape of noise, abrasion, brutal tedium, and feedback, made for one of the most alarming, distressing, and terrible musical experiences in history.
As far as background goes, there really isn’t any. Lou Reed released a string of well-received albums in the early 70s coming off his stint with the legendary rock group The Velvet Underground. As a solo musician, he became more erratic and weirder, ultimately unleashing this sonic onslaught of what is essentially a haphazard collection of noises. There are rumors that it was all a big ‘screw you” to the label which we wanted out of, or just a big joke to all the naysayers who said his last album was ****. Regardless, Metal machine Music gives the impression that it is all just a senseless mess. One may think that everything here was purposeful, perhaps meticulously tracked and specified to build a fluid flow through the album’s duration. I am confident that this is not the case. It truly is Reed screwing with us all, adding distortions and feedback with nonchalant incoherence, grinning wide and laughing at the prospect of releasing this to the public.
There are some who claim that Metal Machine Music was influential to them. In the Noise-Metal genre, I could see this being the case. The album lacks melody, fluidity, harmony, and anything even carrying a semblance of musical attribution. Metal Machine Music stands more as a historical pinpoint, a point that ushered in a wave of experimentation from an eccentric artist, and as a representation of what a crazed artist can do given the limitations of a supposed super-artist of the 70s. it is an interesting mantelpiece, historically. Musically, it is a giant whopping monster of a turd, its score justified by the intrigue of the concept as opposed to any quality listening experience.