DAILY RECORD: Kid 606, Songs About Fucking Steve Albini

by | Apr 26, 2010 | MUSIC

Upon first listen, Songs About Fucking Steve Albini seems like an oddity when compared to much of Kid 606’s recorded output.

Upon first listen, Songs About Fucking Steve Albini seems like an oddity when compared to much of Kid 606’s recorded output. His newest release is a contemplative effort – consisting of little more than processed synthesizer tones – and stands in stark contrast with much of his previous work, which relied on a frenetic melding of hyperspeed drum and bass with a noise rock sensibility. It is a combination that could be described as vicious, if such an animalistic term could be applied to music which revels so strongly in its synthetic origins. But the idea of synthesis has always been present in Kid 606’s albums – not only in literal terms (the digital instrumentation) or through appropriation of different cultural touchstones (the filtering of 90s rave culture through a punk rock lens), but with an unwillingness to conform to the stylistic boundaries that any individual genre tag might suggest.

It is this retreat from genre-specifics that offers Songs About Fucking Steve Albini a sense of aesthetic continuity with Kid 606’s earlier work, despite its more obvious variations. The title, like 2006’s bouncy, acid house-oriented Pretty Girls Make Raves, offers a smarmy parody of some well-loved rock musician, but unlike that album the name of the newest record offers no indication of the music within. A warped sense of nostalgia, the fractured reminiscence of a childhood spent in front of a television, permeates the record. 8-bit video game music collides with the sort of minimalist ambience normally relegated to the background of PBS specials on outer space, but the different elements coalesce into one seamless, yet disquieting whole. While Songs About Fucking Steve Albini is gentle compared to other Kid 606 albums, with songs like “Periled Emu God” utilizing a docile arpeggiated keyboard drift reminiscent of Tangerine Dream’s film scores, it still possesses a propensity for dissonance which ensures it will not be mistaken for any sort of easy listening background music. Songs such as “Deep Lid Morgue” and “Eerie Gold Dump” are heavily processed and distorted, producing nightmarish soundscapes where individual audio sources attempt to claw their way out from underneath layers of crackling dissonance.

Those who come to his newest effort expecting the frantic rhythmic structure of earlier Kid 606 albums might find Songs About Fucking Steve Albini a little off-putting. However, while it might be a cliché to suggest that listeners should expect the unexpected from an artist like this, it is no less true. While something of an aesthetic deviation, Kid 606’s new album goes a long way towards demonstrating the artistic range of iconoclastic figure in electronic music.

Track Review: Male Bonding, “Year’s Not Long” (Sub Pop)

I’m hoping that with the onset of all this 90s revival, all the 80s throwbacks can be put to rest. The 90s were better all around: culturally, politically, and musically. “Year’s Not Long” by U.K.-based Male Bonding is case in point: it’s the sort of disjointed, lo-fi rush perfected two decades ago by just about every band from Chapel Hill, Athens, or Olympia. It’s nothing groundbreaking, by any stretch of the imagination, but anybody who knows the words to “Slack Motherfucker” would probably love this.

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




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