Kim Gordon review – boastful suspense from musician who refuses to compromise | Kim Gordon

safter the abrupt split from Sonic Youth in 2011, Kim Gordon has chosen an uncompromising path. This shouldn’t be surprising; her abrasive vocals have always been among the most challenging elements within the group’s avant-rock arsenal. But in addition to writing a memoir, Girl in a Band, and refocusing a hitherto sidelined fine arts career, Gordon has also embraced ambient improv with Bill Nace as Body/Head, collaborating with surfer Alex Knost as abstract noisers Glitterbust. , and combined acerbic blank verse with loops, basslines, and feedback for her 2019 debut solo album, No Home Record. Reliving faded glory, it seems, isn’t her style.

The Covid-imposed delay in recording No Home Record down the road has clearly given Gordon a chance to live within these songs, and for her new band to work out their antagonistic grooves. While much of No Home Record’s strength lay in its grimness, Gordon’s band—guitarist Sarah Register, bassist Camilla Charlesworth, and drummer Madison Vogt—add a chaotic, human energy to the machine music. Puffing like a no-wave jam band, they find some dark, swaggering punk rock in Air BnB, then subtly beaming as elementary drum machines rattle like trap music on Paprika Pony.

Dark and boastful… Kim Gordon at Koko. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

But Gordon is always the focus, a noir-esque figure in mother-of-pearl shirt and black tie, artfully ripping her guitar and growling like the bastard child of Iggy Pop and Alan Vega. There’s no way she can rely on the considerable credibility she’s built up over decades as an underground figurehead. Instead, Gordon is restless, channeling trauma on Murdered Out’s heavy industrial slither, and turning the male gaze inside out on Hungry Baby’s dark glamor stump. There are moments of sweetness: Earthquake’s dreamy ambient glide; a merry thump through DNA’s no-wave cornerstone Blonde Redhead. But most of these songs are like bare nerves, like shorting electrical wires waiting to explode. That final burst comes on the closing Grass Jeans, destructively devoted to “the, uh, American ‘democratic experiment'”, and as Gordon scales her amp and hammers her guitar against the wall to ecstatic cheers, the resulting noise out is cathartic and exciting.

Leave a Comment