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Berlin Orchestra Tackles Reed's 'Metal Machine Music'
More than a quarter-century after its release as a double album of amplified noise and feedback, former Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" got its first live performance this pMore than a quarter-century after its release as a double album of amplified noise and feedback, former Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" got its first live performance this past weekend from a Berlin avant-garde classical ensemble.
"I find it very, very thrilling," said Reed, who worked on the project and played in the performance by the 10-member group Zeitkratzer. Members of the ensemble painstakingly transcribed the original record to be played by a classical string, wind, piano, and accordion ensemble.
"I've always loved 'Metal Machine Music,'" Reed told a news conference in Berlin on Friday. "I think, after 27 years, it's time to let some other people into it." Reed insisted that "this, to me, is what contemporary classical [music] should sound like." But, he recalled, "it had a very, very bad reception. It was taken off the market in three weeks."
The project was born two years ago when Zeitkratzer's leader, Reinhold Friedl, approached Reed with the idea of a live performance. "He thought I was completely mad," Friedl said ahead of Sunday's performance at Berlin's MaerzMusik festival.
"Metal Machine Music" was never available on CD in North America until the fall of 2000, when the Buddha imprint finally released it. The set continues to confound listeners much as it did upon its original release, when Billboard described it as "totally conceptual electronic sound in the raw. Forget radio airplay; a listener would swear that it's static or that the dial is between signals. While it's always unfair to put stoppers on potentially creative ventures, one would have to say that this effort is far wide of commercial considerations as we know them today."
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