US - New York - Full Moon 69 - 05/26/02
Jim O'Rourke, Kim Gordon, Ikue Mori and DJ Olive +
RFH, London, 26.04.2002
Jim O'Rourke/Kim Gordon/Ikue Mori/DJ Olive + Chicks on Speed + Hecker + Pan Sonic
Anyone who regularly visits Luna Kafé will no doubt be aware of my unhealthy obsession with
Jim O'Rourke. Well, if you've been thinking, 'Jeez, get over it, not everything he touches turn
to gold', then I am now in a position to agree. Jim makes mistakes, and one of them is deciding
to collaborate in an improvisation ensemble with Kim Gordon.
However, before I get onto exactly why O'Rourke's new project sucks, there are other bands on
the bill. Pan Sonic and Hecker were pretty good to be fair. Pan Sonic dealt in the usual anonymous
laptop noise, seguing from the sounds of a rabid snake race on Mars, through to an orgy of pigs.
Mostly unpleasant, but intermittently thrilling, Pan Sonic proved that live laptop music can be
entertaining. Hecker enlived their performance with a simple device: a projected sound wave of
their music, rotated through ninety degrees. Being able to visualise their menacing, crackly,
dubby electro as a wave was mesmerising, and distracted from the fact that their music was less
than inspired. But as a live show it worked very well.
And then came Chicks on Speed. Now, I have read many, many things about bands such as Chicks
on Speed, and they seem to fit into the same bracket as Blectum from Blechdom, DAT Politics,
Kid606 et al. All these bands seem to be of the ethos that laptop jiggery pokery need not be
inaccessible, straight-faced and abstract. It can instead be 'fun'. This means that unless the
sense of humour of those involved is healthy, the whole exercise is painful. And half an hour of
Chicks on Speed was really fucking painful. Like Bis with three Manda Rins up front, they
screamed banal soundbite-ridden shite over tinny drum loops and annoying blippy synth lines as
projections of them making clothes and being 'wacky' flickered colourfully behind them. I think
the DIY ethos was supposed to be inspiring. It made we want to stab myself repeatedly in the eye
with a dead hamster.
I can only guess that inviting along Chicks with Speed was Kim Gordon's idea. Having whored
herself to Calvin Klein by appearing in one of their advertisements, and generally ruining any
Sonic Youth track she sings on, Kim Gordon has proved how bereft she is of good judgement or
talent. Jim's other collaborators - Ikue Mori and DJ Olive - performed admirably under the
circumstances. Along with Jim's spaced-out bass work, they created a sound that captured the
essence of improv: open-ended, communicative, rapidly fluxing and reacting. You have to listen
to the other players in order to respond honestly with your chosen instrument. Kim Gordon instead
decided to mewl and scream rubbish like 'Do you wanna dance?' and 'Fuck', or rub her guitar in a
convincingly Sonic Youth-esque fashion. It was HORRIBLE. I'm sure many people consider Kim Gordon
to be a valid feminist icon. I consider her to be a crass, talentless attention-seeker.
What could have been an interesting gig - Cannibal Ox were initially scheduled to play - turned
into a nightmare of indulgent, brattish nonsense courtesy of Chicks on Speed and Kim Gordon. And
don't call me sexist - if they had been making good music I would be writing about it. But all they
did was make me wish I'd stayed at home.
Copyright © 2002 Tim Clarke