No Wave was a short-lived but influential offshoot of punk
rock centered in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The term No Wave was partly a satiric wordplay rejecting the commercial elements of the then-popular New Wave genre, and also a declaration of the music's experimental nature: No Wave music belonged to no fixed style or genre.
In many ways, No Wave is not a clearly definable genre. There is, for example, no fixed harmony as in most rock music and blues music. There are some elements common to many No Wave performers, including abrasive atonal sounds, strong emphasis on repetitive rhythm, and more emphasis on mood and texture than on conventional melody. Lyrics often focused on nihilism and confrontation, or were puzzlingly abstract.
Performers classified as No Wave generally had little music style in common: Various groups drew on such disperate styles as funk, jazz, blues, heavy metal, aleatoric music and punk rock. Mars, Swans and The Static, experimented with extremely loud, droning music that was frequently characterized by repetitive drumbeats and explicitly nihilistic lyrics.
No Wave had an important impact on noise and industrial bands who formed after, like Big Black
, and Live Skull. Sonic Youth
emerged from this scene by creating music-as-art that eventually reached mass audiences and critical acclaim.