Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Her Noise

My Electrelane feature/interview/review is out and about and readable. I didn't allow myself to look at the other press for No Shouts while I was working on it, so once I was finished I went on a spree and eventually found this puzzling salvo in Stylus:

Electrelane are great. They can’t really play their instruments, aren’t particularly talented singers, and record almost everything in a super-minimal, naturalistic way that could best be described as sparse. I think they’re fantastic.

It surprises me that someone could listen to No Shouts and come away with this opinion (listen and form yr own here). The "they can't play but I'll condescend to like them in a patronizing, slightly ironic way" line of criticism makes me nervous, especally when its premise appears to be invalid, and even more especially when its condescendsion is directed towards women. It reminds me of the way some people still talk about the Slits and the Raincoats.

I had been looking forward to doing an Electrelane story that didn't bring up the fact that the band is made up of women--that looked forward to a future where the existence of a "girl band" was a ho-hum non-story rather than a sexist salt-lick and moldy journalistic fetish. I chose not to, because as tempting as it may be to imagine, that future is still unrealized, and until it's been safely midwived in we're going to have to continue publicly waving about our all-lady bands and labels and festivals and snack foods-based performance art collectives that make Emma Goldman sculptures out of Hostess cupcakes. An explicit, vigilant feminist politics of visibility may be exhausting, but for now I've decided it's kind of a no-brainer.

Case in emphatic point: the expansion of the Her Noise project, which lives here, to include a documentary film:

Her Noise was an exhibition which took place at South London Gallery in 2005 with satellite events at Tate Modern and Goethe-Institut, London. Her Noise gathered international artists who use sound to investigate social relations, inspire action or uncover hidden soundscapes. The exhibition included newly commissioned works by Kim Gordon & Jutta Koether, Hayley Newman, Kaffe Matthews, Christina Kubisch, Emma Hedditch and Marina Rosenfeld. A parallel ambition of the project was to investigate music and sound histories in relation to gender, and the curators set out to create a lasting resource in this area.
The video documents the development of Her Noise between 2001 and 2005 and features interviews with artists including Diamanda Galas, Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon, Jutta Koether, Peaches, Marina Rosenfeld, Kembra Pfhaler, Chicks On Speed, Else Marie Pade, Kaffe Matthews, Emma Hedditch, Christina Kubisch and the show's curators, Lina Dzuverovic and Anne Hilde Neset. The documentary also features excerpts from live performances held during Her Noise by Kim Gordon, Jutta Koether and Jenny Hoyston (Erase Errata), Christina Carter, Heather Leigh Murray, Ana Da Silva (The Raincoats), Spider And The Webs, Partyline, Marina Rosenfeld's 'Emotional Orchestra' at Tate Modern, and footage compiled for the 'Men in Experimental Music' video made during the development of the Her Noise project by the curators and Kim Gordon, featuring Thurston Moore and Jim O'Rourke.

I've only seen five minutes and already I can tell it's heaps better than that Play UK "The Punk Years: Typical Girls" rubbish.


smelly mcsmellsmell said...

i totally saw that review right after i heard the album - pre-stop smiling - and was like, uh, really? because i thought the whole point (or at least part of it) was that they DID know how to play their instruments.

plus, he says "learnt."

mairead said...

I am so stoked because you made a big, heavy claim and totes backed it up. Amazing-amazing, lady.

andrea said...

I am so dissapointed that I missed Electrelane when they played in Boston. They're one of the more thrilling live bands I've ever seen.

Great article!