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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Happy ARC Day!


Well it's ARC day!

For the unitiated, Deb "Rewriting the Rules" on Rust has been encouraging folks to play ARC -- one of the more obscure Neil Young recordings -- on April 1 each year.

Part of the Arc-Weld release, Arc is 35 minutes of pure distortion and molten feedback from the 1991 Neil Young and Crazy Horse tour.

According to legend, Neil placed a video camera on his amp during the 1991 tour and recorded the beginnings and endings of various songs which were later edited down into the single track of Arc. "It was the sound of the entire band being sucked into this little limiter, being compressed and fuckin' distorted to hell," Neil said.
"Arc is like being inside of a very big thing. I equate Arc to that movie Fantastic Voyage -- it's like a trip through a power chord. The chord may last like five or six seconds, but it takes thirty-five minutes, at the size we're reducing ourselves to, to go through it." – Neil
Arc is a composition of feedback, guitar noise, and vocal fragments that was realized from various shows on the 1991 Neil Young and Crazy Horse US tour, which was originally released with Weld in a special-edition 3-CD set called Arc-Weld. Arc bears no small resemblance to the music of Sonic Youth, which was one of the support acts on the tour.

According to an interview with Steve Martin of Agnostic Front that appeared in the December 1991 issue of Pulse! magazine, Arc had its genesis in a film that Neil made called "Muddy Track" (referred to in an interview with David Fricke in the November 28, 1991, issue of Rolling Stone), which consisted of beginnings and endings of various songs from his 1987 European Tour. Neil placed a video camera on his amplifier during the 1987 tour and recorded the beginnings and endings of various songs, that were later edited down into the film's soundtrack. "It was the sound of the entire band being sucked into this little limiter, being compressed and fuckin' distorted to hell," Neil said to Martin, referring to the soundtrack of "Muddy Track". Young showed the video to Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, a noted figure in New York's avant-garde music scene, who suggested that he record an entire album in a similar manner. However, Arc was not recorded through video camera microphones, as was the case with "Muddy Track", but instead was compiled from various professional multi-track recordings made throughout the tour.
In honor of ARC Day, Rust Radio will be playing ARC continuously for the next 24 hours.

Also, if you must have Neil Young's ARC, it is available on Amazon. Although we can't imagine what the impact of listening to a MP3 of ARC on iPod headphones might do?!


Attend ARC Day NOW!

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At 4/01/2010 02:41:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

Good idea! For the last two months (and the next seven or so) I have been working at uni on my final thesis work and for the last few weeks I bring a couple of CDs that I usually don't have the time for to listen to.

I already put Deja Vu and JTTP soundtrack in my bag, after watching and listening to the Archives last night (including JTTP, the film) but will add ARC to that.

Before I had ARC, I remember being obsessed about hearing it, but as you can imagine, not every record store has a copy (the same holds for Trans, which I just HAD to hear after listening to samples). Once in my possession, I could not get my head round it, but now I use it as a sound scape every now and then, like Dead Man.

This may very well be a April Fools' joke, but hey, what the hell.

At 4/01/2010 09:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everybody,

I was wondering if Neil would ever do ARC live just like Lou Reed goes on the road these days with "Metal Machine Music".
And as we are on Fool's Day, why not dream of an ARCoustic version of this 35 mn feedback. Yeah ! That would be a challenge !

Take care

François aka Palomino Nero (down here in France hoping for the new tour to reach our shores in 2010 !)

At 4/01/2010 09:10:00 AM, Blogger Hansjürg said...

Brilliant Idea!
Truely in the spirit of NY!
I love it.

At 4/01/2010 10:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since we all know (thanks to those messages on our NYA discs) that compared to CDs, mp3 files throw away 90% of the musical information....I can only guess that an mp3 of ARC has 90% less noise and molten shrieks as compared to a CD of the same material.

At 4/01/2010 11:36:00 AM, Blogger soemse said...


At 4/01/2010 11:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a stupid tradition. arc is fun and all but why would i listen to it on april fools. rusties are just silly sometimes.

and it was certainly NOT recorded on a video camera. just listen to was recorded on the same equipment that "weld" was recorded on.

At 4/01/2010 01:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

some neil fan you are. that quote refers to muddy track, NOT arc. arc was compiled from the recordings from the weld tour.

At 4/01/2010 04:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's the only CD that I've lost or misplaced that I don't care if I find...played it once...gotta be in the right mood to hear it...I was, once...


At 4/01/2010 09:36:00 PM, Blogger Annie said...

Neil looks like THE CROW from the movie of the same name on that pic.

I miss the smell of the horse...

At 4/02/2010 10:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't know why you won't post this, but that quote refers to "muddy track", not "arc". "arc" was NOT recorded on a video camera!

At 4/02/2010 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous LRR said...

Hey Thrasher!

The legend is that Neil put the little video camera on the amp during the recording of the early 1987 European Crazy Horse tour, which was filmed for Muddy Track.

The footage was played for Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), who suggested that Neil put out an entire album of the intros and outtros.

So Arc wasn't constructed from a tiny condenser mic's just came from the multi-tracks which were recorded during the weld tour.

Sorry, I'm too lazy to provide a source on this one. If enough people back me up it can be considered accurate :-)

At 4/02/2010 09:57:00 PM, Blogger Worthless Recluse said...

If there's one day in the year one should listen to Arc, it shouldn't be April Fools day, it should be Christmas Day. Arc was a fabulous gift from Neil as far as I'm concerned. The artists I love most have the true essence of rock'n'roll but can also get Out There. Arc and its opposite sibling Dead Man are a fine balance to, say, Harvest Moon. The fact that Neil comfortably and instinctively can go to either extreme (or somewhere in the middle) as necessary is a key to his greatness. Arc reminds me of the explosive guitar chaos of Fushitsusha, Jandek or The Dead C. Neil doesn't know about those bands I'm sure, but they tap into the same spirit. "It's all one song!".

At 4/06/2010 05:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We desperately need m o r e of it

ARC isn't bizarre-obscure-aprilfoolsdayjoke or whatever it's an experience that let you shout out "my god, don't let it never ever stop before I die", like I did at the 5th minute of 19 or so of the "no hidden path" performance 8/19/2008 in Berlin.

It's pure, farout, refreshing transcending, a transfiguration: ARC is art (yeah, saying that,I mean it in an absolutely positive way).

We desperately need m o r e of it (ARC, "no hidden path" in live performance length etc.)
An entire concert consisting of all the songs plus the ARCish feedback-improvising-jamming links between the songs - its all one song!

Thanks Neil.

Malte, Germany

At 4/07/2010 12:21:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

"I love the adventure of doing things
I haven't done before"
Director George Stevens

"Eternity in a Moment"
Easter Sermon Sign at Old Ship Church
(oldest house of continuing worship in America)

Some good comments here...ARC tends to be a lightning rod for a lot of people. LRR is right about the inspiration source; Thurston loved the footage that he saw and suggested an entire album. Great observation comparing this with Dead Man (one of my favorite Neil albums)...they really are yin and yang for a special type of music that Neil is sometimes inspired to create. I believe that for him (and also for many of us) it's a type of meditation.

"The most important task confronting mathematicians would therefore seem to be the construction of a satisfactory theory of the infinite."
David Foster Wallace from
Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity

At 4/01/2013 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Dreaming Man said...

We are currently ARCing in OKC ... Warning: Further communications may be distorted ... Hopeful to resume tomorrow!

"I wanna love ya, I wanna love ya ..."

At 4/01/2013 12:18:00 PM, Anonymous Dreaming Man said...

... forgot to say in previous post. I have packed away somewhere a 2'x3' ARC, Neil as THE CROW, poster. It was my favorite, out of 3-5, Neil posters when I was away at college.

At 4/01/2014 07:34:00 PM, Anonymous Rock Hoffman said...

Happy ARC Day!


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