No Trend's Omnicidal Anti-Punk

What do you do?
When you don't want to be dead
And you don't want to be alive
What do you do?

- "For the Fun of it All"

Continuing with my other posts on music, here is a third entry in this series of "Essential Nyxcore" in which I talk about a band that has influenced me and remained relevant in my life for over a decade at this point: No Trend. I have wanted to write this post for years and had originally intended for it to be going through their entire discography, album by album, and writing up my thoughts on the evolution of their style. Unlike a lot of other bands, and very befitting of their name, No Trend is a band whose entire output demands being listened to in order to really get a sense of what they were doing, because they changed their sound pretty radically on every album. This was also the exact point of their entire project, which was effectively to take the entire ethos of punk to its most radical conclusions by refusing to conform to any particular music style or even themselves have a distinct style. Their entire career was an act of self-effacement that ended with their final album, More, not being released until 15 years after the band had broken up and about a decade after founding member Frank Price had committed suicide.

It's for these reasons that No Trend has influenced me more than most of the bands I've listened to in my life and why they survived me eventually losing interest in punk. More than any other band I've ever listened to, No Trend really took the ethos of punk to its more radical conclusions until it had ceased to be anything resembling punk, which made them the most punk band to ever exist. Because they remained stuck in punk's ethos of total negation, without having any positive alternatives, what No Trend ended up with was still something of a dead end. Their work was an act of continually evading and escaping the punk subculture, which they'd correctly recognized by 1982 to be worse than a dead end.

Punk Should Have Died Sooner

I've said many times before that I often feel like someone perpetually stuck in their edgy teenager phase, where the only possible way to survive that is by turning it into a meta-ironic performance and a parody of myself – a Nyx turning in on herself eternally. But reading an interview with Steve Albini today reminded me a great deal of the sort of person that Nyx Land is and was. In particular it reminds me that despite the shitposty and over-the-top goth girl aesthetic, much like goth music itself whose roots are in punk, the prehistory of my decade+ music collection is paleolithic crust of fossilized punk albums I haven't listened to in years and that hardly anyone has ever even heard of.

The Johnny Hobo post wasn't written just because Pat the Bunny's music has resonated with me from a political angle, but also because I discovered Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains in high school back when I still listened to punk regularly and was even a little involved in the "scene" that existed in the small isolated Central Valley town in California that I lived in at the time. Punk music was my first real exposure to anarchism, and while I wouldn't say I began to have anything approaching an actual engagement with anarchism until much later in life, that itself speaks to the complicated feelings I've had towards punk music and the punk ethos for a long time. I've been listening to Dead Kennedys and Leftover Crack for well over a decade now, but I was still at one point exactly the sort of person Steve Albini describes in the interview that lead to him questioning his history of being offensive for the sake of being offensive:

For years, Albini had always believed himself to have airtight artistic and political motivations behind his offensive music and public statements. But as he observed others in the scene who seemed to luxuriate in being crass and offensive, who seemed to really believe the stuff they were saying, he began to reconsider. “That was the beginning of a sort of awakening in me,” he said. “When you realise that the dumbest person in the argument is on your side, that means you’re on the wrong side.”

It wasn't just me, but also all the friends I had in high school who were the sort of people he describes – friends I had who were in fact more involved in the punk scene than I was. I have no idea what happened to any of them, how many are still alive, how many turned to "harder" drugs than weed and alcohol, if any of them left the tiny shithole town we lived in. I know some of them got their girlfriends pregnant, some were physically abusive, some went to juvie. For all the significance the punk scene once had as a youth movement, giving kids during the Reagan years who rightfully didn't respect any of the middle class conservative authority figures in their lives a voice to express their discontent with the era, both Albini's most famous song "Kerosene" and The Clash's song "Stay Free" most accurately captured the darker side of all of this. For all the Steve Albinis and Joe Strummers who became successful in a countercultural youth movement but stuck to their principles, there are hundreds of thousands of people like my friends from high school.

For every "Nazi Punks Fuck Off", there's always also been a "Guilty of Being White". The punk scene failed like the hippie counterculture because it has ultimately only ever been the pure id of a generation whose rage and disobedience was mostly a formless mass and also ultimately still made up of relatively privileged individuals and became canonized by acts like the Sex Pistols who were both talentless and the exact opposite of being politically radical despite coopting the idea of anarchism. From the very beginning, the Sex Pistols gave a platform to Nazis with stunts like Sid Vicious famously wearing his swastika shirt, and while Johnny Rotten at least later redeemed himself as a musician of some worth with Public Image Ltd., he has also made many comments which are readily available on his Wikipedia page of being basically a homophobic bourgeois English liberal who doesn't support the right to Irish sovereignty from British colonialism.

It's a complete truism in the year of Our Lady of Sorrows 2024 to say that punk is dead, but it's also really missing the point to say that punk is something that used to be alive and then died. It would be a mistake to write it off entirely, but it must also be said that from the very beginning it had major problems. Punk as a scene, a genre, and an ethos has always had these flaws at its foundations. It's not just that punk was easily coopted by mainstream culture, or that it has had many influential individuals whose politics have always been questionable and superficial. The problem is all the shithead cis men in all the tiny local scenes across the country who would never produce a Minor Threat or Dead Kennedys or Germs, but had a fucking lot of Sid Viciouses or Stzas. Leftover Crack/Choking Victim is one of my favorite punk bands and has endured in my regular rotation of music, and their music is pretty explicitly radical, but Stza is also said to be a piece of shit abuser. And I can't say I'm surprised, because as I said, the punk scene has always been full of dudes being loudly anti-authoritarian rebels but still being shitty cishet men.

Negation: Too Many Humans

This all relates to No Trend because before finding a home in the goth subculture, I discovered No Trend and found a band that spoke to all my problems with the fakeness of the punk scene. It only feels more prescient connecting the punk scene also to the development of a modern anarchist scene or movement in the US and seeing, as I mentioned in my Johnny Hobo post, how most so-called anarchists these days that I've encountered both online in real life are often at best useless if not a hazard to be around. Or they're just outright feds – who can even tell anymore? But as far back as 1982, No Trend wasn't just taking the piss out of punk as a genre, scene, or movement, but also taking the piss out of the entire concept of music and releasing some of the most venomously misanthropic music I've ever listened to. The entire ethos of the band is summed up in one line, repeated over and over again, which is also the title of one of their more famous songs: "Mass Sterilization Caused By Venereal Disease".

To me, No Trend isn't just more punk than punk for rejecting the punk scene and making themselves hated in their local scene (Washington DC). At its core, punk has always been just one particular direction of the id of a pissed off generation of youths, but ultimately adopting a pseudo-anarchist politics or image where anarchy is literally just smashing stuff is just one particular realization of that. You could argue that Nazi Punks and "Hatecore" has always been an appropriation of punk, doing what the fascists have literally always done since fascism is more like a cancer than a politics, but it reminds me of a line from Salò, one of the best explorations of the fascist psyche: "We Fascists are the only true anarchists, naturally, once we're masters of the state. In fact, the one true anarchy is that of power." But while I'd argue that there has always through white male patriarchy1 been a repressed fascist impulse within punk rock (since patriarchy is essentially a microfascism), No Trend to me did something similar to what Johnny Hobo did by becoming conscious of the nihilism at the core of punk. In Johnny Hobo, it was expressed as I wrote about as a "joyous despair" or even a Dionysian pessimism, but No Trend went somewhere… much darker.

No Trend's first release is the famous EP Teen Love, which features "Mass Sterilization" and their most well-known song "Teen Love", a wonderfully cold, emotionless, sardonic, and generic story about a vapid (and presumably white middle class) teenage couple who die in a car crash. It goes without saying that discovering this in high school was a watershed moment for my development as a person alongside discovering Slayer's song "Necrophiliac". This was followed up by their album Too Many Humans, which further explored their early sound and thematic interests. It is an omnicidal attack on not just Reagan America and the false countercultural alternatives to it that the Gen Xers formed, but also on the entire vacuous state of the human condition in 1980s America. While other punk bands were flirting with homophobia, sexism, and even outright fascism in some cases for the sake of being edgy and offensive, No Trend took the nihilistic impulse of punk to maketotaldestroy and not only weaponized it against what the concept of humanity had become (which of course is determined by whatever the dominant classes consider to be "human") in the time they were performing, they and did so with the same iconic cynicism of "Teen Love" where their own misanthropic nihilism is always-already apprehended as passe, juvenile, pointless. Only by self-effacing is No Trend able to take its nihilism and give it a renewed effectiveness.

But they didn't just do that with the semantic content of their works; the form itself of their music functions towards their ethos. No Trend's early music is monotonous, droning, absolutely abrasive and loud. Much like other music to come out of the punk scene, it didn't require talent to perform, but unlike punk it didn't have any pretensions of being more authentic than the inaccessible overproduced arena rock that The Ramones were spitting in the face of, nor does it approach the cerebral minimalism of pure noise music. It is both comprehensible as music performed by people, but it's also bad and intentionally bad to make a point. Even their live performances matched their ethos and included doing things like shining bright lights at the audience to blind them and wearing the ugliest thrift store polyester suits they could find. Unlike someone like GG Allin, whose stage presence is more like a limit experience, No Trend both made their live performances unpleasant for their audiences but also not exciting. They existed to make themselves hated not because of the trauma-fueled exhibitionist perversion borne out of GG Allin's abusive childhood, but rather they were the exact opposite of someone like GG Allin. Or perhaps more accurately, they were the other side of the coin for what happens when a band takes punk to its real conclusions and becomes too punk for punk.

If GG Allin's music (who would unto himself be a whole different post I could write) is an adequate idea of punk's nihilism expressed through a hyper-masculine intensity, No Trend's music could be described as intentionally anorgasmic. They didn't just want to be hated, but to do everything possible to not even develop an audience of haters. They wanted rather to create an aesthetic that refuses to give the audience anything they want, and the music itself served their nihilistic ethos where the world is understood as something that isn't even worth rebelling against. No alternatives, no future, just a sardonic mockery of humanity and the concept of music, and therefore beauty, itself. Noise music has a history that comes from well before punk and developed in a parallel universe in the industrial scene, but in its earliest forms in industrial and Fluxus and various other art movements that noise music came out of, it intended to say something about what music could be. In industrial, the goal was a Burroughsian extermination of all rational thought, deprogramming an audience that had been brainwashed by pop music. There were similar experiments within the punk scene, with Steve Albini's band Big Black being one of the more famous examples of it (again, I could write a whole post unto itself about Big Black), but No Trend took furthest the idea to truly annihilate not just all rational thought but all emotion, pleasure, and meaning.

Self-Negation: A Dozen Dead Roses

Despite their best efforts, No Trend did end up acquiring a fan base early on into their existence, but while a band that didn't really believe in what they were doing would have went along with this and allowed themselves to have an audience, No Trend did the exact opposite and released their second album: A Dozen Dead Roses. They changed their sound to be something not just completely opposite of their early work, not just absurdly and incomprehensibly different from their previous work, but somehow they found another way to make their music as intentionally shitty as possible. From the very first seconds of the first song "Karma Nights" on Dead Roses that opens with a funky bass line, a synthy background dirge and a seemingly endless masturbatory guitar solo accompanying Jeff Mentges' absolutely horrid falsetto, Dead Roses triumphantly announces itself as an even more profane self-effacing desecration of No Trend's own work by being a deranged melodramatic metal-jazz-funk dissent into heartbreak that only develops further on No Trend's sarcastic, jet black cynicism. Compared to Too Many Humans, it has more going for it musically, but it still is difficult to enjoy because it's just so stupid and continues to have utter contempt for humanity, exploring that by essentially making a mockery of breakup songs, new wave, and hair metal.

If No Trend's early works were an attack on the punk scene, Dead Roses not only transcends that to alienate their own fans by releasing something completely different from the sound they had already created, but it also is an attack on other music styles that were popular at the time. It only further develops on their crusade against absolutely everything and cements their discography as being possibly the greatest effort in doing maketotaldestroy through music. Rather than letting their outwardly misanthropic and nihilistic thematic qualities get stale, they only took it even further, turning it into absurd self-parody and renewing its ability to be effectively sardonic. For good measure, to drive the point home even further, they do a cover of their own song "For the Fun of It All" with the same ever-present obnoxious hair metal guitar solos, the lyrics left the same but now through the song's juxtaposition taking on a new meaning not as expressing a suicidal despair at life itself but at life in the aftermath of a bad breakup.

Much like part of the brilliance of No Trend's early works to me are that its nihilistic misanthropy is only the most surface-level thematic content of it and it really, intentionally or not, is a scathing indictment of absolutely everything that forms the dominant culture and countercultures of 1980s America, Dead Roses develops on this even further by being possibly the most delightful satire of heterosexuality to ever exist. I have no doubts that this was definitely not its intention, and that what No Trend thought they were doing was just trying to desecrate the concept of "love" or whatever, but such things much like "humanity" are not platonic forms but rather exist within social relations and are determined by the dominant classes. And much like with "Teen Love", though by different means, Dead Roses systematically eviscerates heterosexuality, exposing all its vacuousness, and then parades its corpse around. Of course, as far as I know it's all entirely from the perspective of cishet men – with the exception of Lydia Lunch making a guest appearance on the album to do vocals, though I don't know if she had any creative input in writing the album – so it doesn't get into a truly uncomfortable and radical territory of satirizing heterosexuality as not just vacuous but also an abusive power structure. But for what it is, and for the conditions it came out of, it's an incredible accomplishment not just in being more punk than punk but in also channeling the nihilism that lead to the formation of the punk scene towards something productive and with too much artistic merit for No Trend's own good.

Total Negation: Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex and More

No Trend's output at its core has an opaque kernel of irony that grew out of their commitment to what punk had actually originally stood for. Punk has always been a bit of a fellow traveller of the Situationist International and was supposed to use mass culture as a weapon to undermine mass culture using its own principles, yet this was lost on most punk bands, for whom punk had almost immediately crystallized into a distinct style and look rather than a coherent philosophy or politics. The irony then of No Trend is that the deeper they went into turning punk against itself, the further their output strays from sounding like punk at all, they only improved as musicians and got more ambitious. Yet it became in the service of making music that defied classificiation while also sounding deliberately awful, reducing the entire language of rock music and everything in its genealogy to absurdity. This bizarro sardonic parody of music itself could only be described as something like punk muzak.

This is reflected in how Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex was received when it was released:

No Trend’s radical shift in direction was greeted with howls of outrage–disgusted listeners to Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex went so far as to demand their money back, and precise number of how many copies were defenestrated, smashed, burnt alive, drowned in the bathtub, or tortured into revealing where Mentges lived so its owner could fill a paper bag full of shit and put it on his doorstep will probably never be known.

I will admit that I've listened to Nash-Vegas far less than any of No Trend's other albums, and while listening to it on repeat for this post, I can see that there's a good reason for that. Even as someone who would describe themselves as a diehard No Trend fan (something that the surviving members would balk at – good! fuck you Jeff, your music sucks!), listening to this album is a bit of an exercise in masochism. For Nash-Vegas, No Trend brought on a total of 12 musicians, all in the service of something that creates a similar kind of nihilistic chaotic noise like their early work, but through maximalism. The album is often compared to "no wave", Frank Zappa, and Captain Beefheart, but to me it exists in a class of its own as a well-orchestrated musical nonsense by exploding the whole form of the rock band. Jeff Mentges is at his best (worst) on this album, delivering lines like "Minimum wages and stomach pains / Is there life without hope?" and "Ha ha ha / I fail to see the humor / Are you stupid? / Or are you dumb? / Dare to exist / You deserve your life" to sensual saxophone soloing and screeching guitars with excruciatingly nasal vocals.

Fittingly for such an album's instrumentation, Nash-Vegas is the point where No Trend's music started to become very clearly Dadaist influenced. Their nihilistic misanthropy is present as ever, but where they would previously undermine themselves by making their edgy anti-humanism into an absurd parody of itself that itself is a pointless exercise in hating a fundamentally worthless world, it's here effaced by making language itself meaningless. Lines like "It's getting worse everyday / All possible hope is gone" in the same song come before "I think it's your new dandruff shampoo / It makes your hair dry and unmanageable" on Fred Reality. Or compare this to the existential despair evoked in "Angel Angel Down We Go", which ends with Menteges' vocals being played in reverse to suggest the subversion of his own lyrics:

Is this living
Or is my existence just a phase I'm going through?
Tonight's the night, Heaven fell down
Flat on its face
I got no soul
We got no soul
Don't let it get ya down
It's only a lifetime
But what else is there

This sort of style of self-effacement and contradiction has, as already established extensively throughout this post, been a hallmark of No Trend's output, but by the very end of their career they seem to have reached the point of no longer having anything to attack. By the time of Nash-Vegas and More, No Trend has withdrawn into lunacy where they're creating ugly, meaningless noise to push their self-negation to its limits. Perhaps on "Freak", they're being just a bit self-aware and honest about what they're doing:

I am not a human being
I am a freak
Living the life of truth, freak
This ain't no make believe, freak
Here I am
Just getting by with what I am, freak
Is it possible to get so sick of yourself, freak
Just another identity crisis
But I can't hide this thing I am, freak
You dug your grave
Now lay in it
You gotta stand for something
Or you'll fall for anything
I can only overcome this, freak
You must accept it, freak

Of course, this is then followed with "Bel-Pre Rising", a track with no vocals that sounds more like muzak than anything else on the album, perhaps an intent to close off the album by contradicting a moment of sincerity about what No Trend is actually doing. Nash-Vegas to me is only a curtain call for what would end up being No Trend's real magnum opus, where they would develop on everything they were exploring in it and leave behind all pretense of believing in anything: More.

More opens with Jeff Mentges delivering a short introduction in which he "graciously welcomes [the listener] with open arms", and describes it as a category of music that is "rarely heard: it's called 'honest'." He says that when listening to More, your "favorite chair is softer, the hearth is warmer, and life and memories become much sweeter." With not even a second to spare it immediately cuts to the track "Fuzzy Dice", a track that in its own right is a completely fucking incomprehensible and obnoxious ska rock banger and only feels even more like a slap in the face with how the listener is given no time to process what's happening.

On Nash-Vegas there's still some pretense of No Trend having roots in being a punk rock band, and it has enough of that to sound like something resembling "no wave", but on More No Trend takes its assault on language even further by fully abandoning their identity. "Fuzzy Dice" contains the usual nihilistic No Trend lyrics, "Digging this ditch looks like a grave / Too bad for me, it’s my life", but is now accompanied by ska horns that make for something so tonally dissonant that it transcends art and becomes an extremely high-effort shitpost. The line "At least I got fuzzy dice in my car, that’s more than I can say for you" (what the fuck does this even mean?) juxtaposed to Jeff Mentges lamenting the inconsequential superfluousness of his own life to nauseatingly upbeat ska music encapsulates what about More is a complete triumph of everything No Trend was trying to do.

At the end of the 80s, as the human condition has decayed into complete incoherence and the empire has begun to rot, the forced positivity of Reagan's America has defeated even No Trend's attempts to kill punk using its own principles. There is no possible form of rebellion left, nothing left to criticize; everything has become a product, equally vapid, its own value being whatever it costs. This sentiment is explored on "Sorry I Asked" with lines that all consist of things like:

Just another counterculture
Just another waste of time
Just another broken heart
Just another shopping mall

As No Trend often does, this track negates and contradicts itself by ending with another voice responding to the body of the text with "sorry I asked", which demonstrates neatly why I describe this as No Trend's magnum opus. It reaches such a rigorous exercise in nihilism that it becomes something like Henry Flynt's idea of concept art:

Concept art came because of the quasi-cognitive claims that were being made for serial music. At the time, Cage and his school were involved in a kind of manipulation… you could call it extreme formalism. As a matter of fact I can be precise and call it absurdist formalism. But the absurdist formalism of Cage, you might almost say the head-game aspect of it and the head-game aspect of La Monte Young’s word pieces… I looked at that and I said: Let us isolate the head-game aspect. Instead of being pseudo-cognitive as the serial composers are, let us get rid of that—get rid of what Milton Babbitt would eventually do with the twelve-tone set… that abomination, which I guess is some trivial kind of academic mathematics. I said to hell with that, but let us indeed have an art form that is about head games, that is about logic defeating itself. I was responding directly to these precedents but at the same time I moved it way over and away from where these precedents were.

Just to drive this point home, "Sorry I Asked" is followed by "Spank Me (With Your Love Monkey, Baby)", a meandering funk track in which Mentges repeats the title of the track over and over again to accompanying female background vocals and more wild sax soloing. Much like the absurd shitpost opening of the album, the juxtaposition of the tracks with as little editing as possible serves to effectively shock the listener into awareness of the garbage they're listening to. Where punk's juvenile attempts at being "shocking" and "provocative" have generally aged extremely poorly and in retrospect only been the lowest-common denominator of shitty white men giving a platform to Nazis, More repeatedly manages to actually be shocking and provocative while sounding nothing like punk by being so exquisitely absurd and confusing. It's important to note that they only took the musicianship of Nash-Vegas even further, supposedly having an entire orchestra of 40 musicians from the the Berklee College of Music.2 There is, undoubtedly, real talent here in the service of deliberately awful music, which makes the entire album a kind of meta-prank.

The real star of More however is "No Hopus Opus", an 18-minute long epic that caps off No Trend's career in truly spectacular fashion. The track moves from being orchestral to something like a return to a more traditional hardcore punk sound and is divided into four parts, making it almost a mini-opera which begins with No Trend's characteristic sardonic mockery of 80s forced positivity: "The best things in life are free […] Things really aren't that bad / It depends upon how you look at them" being delivered by an upbeat chorus of singers that seem to sound deliberately like muzak that might be featured in a TV commercial.

If No Trend's late work could be described in terms of Henry Flynt's idea of concept art, then what "No Hopus Opus" does in its second part is present a thesis which its purpose is to then defeat: Through its instrumentation, which is a mockery of everything about how all popular music (especially rock) has become a vapid commercialized product, the orchestra functions in the song as representing everything about Reagan's America and effectively what America had turned into in the 80s. The chorus insists that everything is fine as Jeff Mentges delivers a spoken series of lyrics matter-of-factly describing the everyday decay of American society: Alcoholism, divorce, being trapped in shit minimum wage jobs, consuming shit television, having to live back at home as an adult, suburban serial murder and pornography. By the end of this part, Mentges starts agreeing with them, responding back and forth with the chorus: "Things really aren't that bad / (Yeah, things really aren't that bad)" as if he's been successfully brainwashed to ignore the reality right in front of him that No Trend has spent its entire career trying to systematically annihilate.

Part III of the song is something of a moody interlude, presenting a counter-argument to the thesis which Mentges whispers threateningly: "You can't lose / If there's never anything to gain / Like the dark side / You can't win / Because there's no reward / On the dark side." This part of the track is both something of a parody of No Trend's misanthropy, a contradiction of itself where it is acknowledging that there's nowhere to go and nothing to gain, but also that there is nothing to lose. The chorus in Part II doesn't have any power over the "dark side" because like "Freak" says in Nash-Vegas, this is not music made for human beings.

Part IV then opens with a chaotic mess of screeching guitars and sax and possibly other instruments, making use of the meaninglessness of the language (music) that No Trend is working with to reduce itself to absurdity or defeat itself on its own principles. After demonstrating through music what is established in Part III that No Trend simply doesn't give a fuck and has nothing to lose, that music has become meaningless, a more traditional hardcore punk section comes in to give some rhythmic accompaniment to Mentges' vocals coming back in. He continues describing more of the decay of American society, with more venom in his delivery this time as he describes his boomer grandfather who thinks he's the ghost of Elvis Presley and has a Harley. This is what all of this has been for, the class of people who has benefitted the most from American society: Extremely mid middle class boomers whose only aspiration in life is to ride their overpriced motorcycles to Florida. The chorus then breaks back in, except they are now almost mocking Mentges by echoing what he initially believed: "Things really are that bad / No matter how you look at them." The song has succeeded in defeating its own thesis, and the chorus returns to admit that it was known all along that things are, in fact, as bad as they seem.

The song reprises this line in the final part, displaying its own victory over everything that No Trend has been against their entire career. Through "No Hopus Opus", they succeed in using the language of the enemy – of Reaganite America, commercialized music, and the trendy punk faux rebels – to defeat them. No Trend, by the end of the song, has truly taken control of all the different musicians, orchestration, and composition that are so ambitiously brought together in this final track to speak through it. All along, they have been right; things really are that bad, and they've not gotten any better since Too Many Humans.


One might perhaps have guessed that the idea of writing a very long post about a band like No Trend, whose entire goal was to alienate their fans, is something that the surviving band members would despise me for in the unlikely event that they ever found out about it. To that I can only say that I'd hope for nothing less. No Trend has been a formative band for me that I've continued to listen to for a significant portion of my life at this point. They gave me something to latch onto for an extremely drawn out exercise in describing everything that I hate about America, about the white middle class, about straight cis people, about humanity in general, and how to talk about these things in a way that is neither merely being edgy for the sake of it and taking oneself way too seriously (as metal tends to do, for instance) nor is making it all out into being of no consequence.

Everything that No Trend did speaks of things that have consequence. They didn't just see the deaths of 20th century music subcultures as they were happening but also got ahead of them and created something that was extremely ahead of its time. If No Trend had been around today, they likely would have attracted a dedicated fanbase because their radical contrarianism essentially lead them into making a kind of high-effort remixed shitpost music that would fit in extremely well with today's hyper-online culture where every cultural signifier has been reduced to meaningless images to remix and make fun of. This would of course have been exactly what they wouldn't want, which would have been all the better, because it would have kept pushing them to find no possible audience, circling into the avant garde through a kind of game of chicken with their own audience. This is effectively what their career ended up being, but it was over all too soon (No Trend only was active for about six years).

If "No Hopus Opus" is to me an example of unintentional Flyntian concept art where No Trend ends their career by condensing the problems they sought to solve through their music and then "solving" these problems by reducing their own music and music itself to absurdity, then this post in which I am giving all this attention to a band that wanted anything but attention or an audience is my own response and challenge to their work. For all that No Trend did to find no possible audience, to create an unlistenable musical output that negates all possible semantic and formal content, I say to them as a Deleuzian that they merely created another kind of order. An order that is a radical challenge to everything about why the 20th century's subcultures were recuperated into the mass media spectacle, and why capital has kept history and culture on pause since then. The system hasn't been able to figure out anything new to create because No Trend demonstrates what has only become more true in the 30+ years since the band ended: Opening up any system, whether it be a band's musical output or networking technologies, creates too many flows of desire to be intelligible within the present state of things where everything is easy to recuperate when it becomes a distinct "scene" or "brand".

Ironically, No Trend to me succeeds better than punk ever did at articulating an actually radical philosophy through their music. It just so happens that it meant having to let go of punk and their own egos or any intelligible idea of what No Trend was. Ultimately, No Trend was too stuck in a dead end of total negation to turn this into anything positive, but there are hints especially at the end of their career in something that is through other means discovering the same sort of remix culture that 90s electronic music would use and the Ccru would write about with jungle. They seem to have discovered by the very end of their career that if nothing is sacred, anything can be used as a weapon, and were just shy of the next logical leap of their philosophy into hyperstition. Instead of merely rejecting any possible audience, a real continuation of the life-affirming active nihilism in No Trend's work is to create a war machine that doesn't just escape the systems of control, as they were continually trying to do by refusing to have an audience and become commercialized like the rest of punk, but also hijacks those same systems to propagate itself.

Perhaps if No Trend has survived into the 90s and been around for digital hardcore, things might have turned out differently.



And then maybe white TERFism in riot grrrl, although I'm just not as familiar with riot grrrl since by the time I had started to do some self-crit (pretransition) about my misogyny and then later transitioned, I had long moved onto having little identification with punk.

Author: n1x (n1x@katak)


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