Skoal Kodiak, Squid Fist top list of local bands bringing the noise

Living loud: A local history of experimental music

All around the kitchen of his Minneapolis carriage house lie hand-built instruments—a keyboard beset with toggle switches that turn the factory-programmed rumba beat into a digital, inorganic stutter; a circuit board attached to an amplifier, which produces a roar that approaches a musical note before diving into hopeless gargle.

Lunkenheimer belongs to Skoal Kodiak, a local outfit that makes danceable noise and is the elected figurehead of the local noise scene.

"Most people don't know that if something is powered by nine volts, you can touch the circuit board while it's live," he says. "I didn't know that, either." He gives a sheepish laugh and adds, "I got lucky."

Lunkenheimer is not a musician. He never wanted to be. He knows nothing more than what a year's worth of drum lessons taught him. And when he built the bleach-bottle microphone in 2000, he knew even less about electronics. He came upon noise music as a matter of instinct, working from a native need to find unheard sounds.

But does it sound good? Is it formless cacophony? Is it music? Ask him, and Lunkenheimer falls quiet. His long hair tumbles in a limp shawl that hides his face. Deep in thought, he frowns in bewilderment.

"I've always looked for something new," he says simply. "Doing something when you don't know what the outcome is going to be. Self-bafflement is my desire."

After a moment's pause, he returns to his bleach bottle. The sound is grating and raw. But Lunkenheimer bobs his head, transfixed. For him, the noise is elemental. The thoughts it evokes are wordless. He fingers the brass bolts like a saxophone's valves, and the noise fills the room.

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