Ambient. Discomforting. Eerie. There are MANY ways to describe Lou Reed’s appropriately-titled, 1975, Double-Album Metal Machine Music. IN MMM Reed divides 65 minutes worth of distortion and feedback into four equal parts. On the original vinyl release, timings for sides 1–3 were stated as “16:01”, while the 4th side read “16:01 or ∞”, as the last groove on the LP was a continuous loop. In the 1979 Rolling Stone Record Guide, critic Billy Altman said it was “a two-disc set consisting of nothing more than ear-wrecking electronic sludge, guaranteed to clear any room of humans in record time”. On the other hand, the first issue of the influential New York zine Punk placed Reed and the album on its inaugural 1976 issue. To quote critic Victor Bockris, Reed’s recording can be understood as “the ultimate conceptual punk album and the progenitor of New York punk-rock”.

Lou Reed Performing Metal Music Machine

Lou Reed Performing Metal Machine Music

Now, in the spring of 2016 at AC Entertainment’s Big Ears Festival (Knoxville, TN), the concept takes the stage again in an experience titled “Lou Reed’s DRONES”. Reed’s friend and guitar tech, Stewart Hurwood, is set to operate the “DRONES” (the guitars that will be tuned using the ostrich method-which assigns exactly one pitch class to all guitar strings, tuned to the same note over two or three octaves). Hurwood will be accompanied by a program of musicians whom have yet to be announced. Experimental performance artist and Reed’s surviving wife, Laurie Anderson, will be curating the experience.

Reed's Drones Setup

Reed’s DRONES Setup at Big Ears Festival

Album invokes terror. Pairs well with most time-lapse videos.