Gender Trouble finds itself in the middle of a beautiful crossroads, one that changes drastically depending on your chosen listening medium. Through a car stereo, the pulsating synths and four-on-the-floor dance beats find themselves accompanied, but never truly matched, by a constant layer of white noise. On a fine set of headphones, however, that blissful static finds itself much more prominent. Both listening techniques are enjoyable in their own right, and I have found myself with this album in my car stereo for the last month.
Gender Trouble is a new project from Rich Loren of Pyramids, Sailors with Wax Wings, and White Moth, and is the owner/founder of Handmade Birds. The listed credits in the digipak CD that I received also list Faith Malimba, AJ, Kenneth Parker, JSA, and S. McKinlay as musical contributors, with Marissa Nadler and Scout Paré-Phillips as vocals on the album’s first and second tracks respectively.
The only documentation that I’ve found to talk about this release seems to come from Loren themselves (and given the nature of the project, I am inclined to be curious about their pronouns), and describes Chokehair as something that,
“…explores the much ignored/maligned/ignored genre of Harsh Noise Wall through the prism of noise, techno, and THE MOTHERFUCKING SPECTACLE. Gender Trouble is static and synth and more static, waves and waves of static, and rejection of music and rejection of nihilism, but with a decent beat you can (but won’t) dance to. Indebted equally to the Rita and Tiesto, I feel confident that if Little Richard was conceived in 1990, this is the music he’d be making today.”
To be totally fair: I completely disagree. These are some of the most dance-focused beats that I’ve heard in a long damn time, and the layers of synths fading in and out are worthy of any grimy basement rave worth its salt. I am reminded of nothing more than being a thirteen year old screaming around Grand Theft Auto 3 with Rise FM blasting in the background, but with a distinct and lovely cushion of unrelenting guaranteed to make a harsh noise believer out of you. I find myself consciously and unconsciously dancing to these tracks whenever I hear them
I was particularly attracted to Chokehair because of the band name and had no knowledge whatsoever about what I was in for. Though there are no explicitly stated politics throughout this record with regard to vocals; the atmosphere that they have cultivated is intrinsically queer and has its roots in a sound and culture that has often been populated by the LGBT community. From the nigh-continual ass-shakery of the processed kick, to the ever-present and often-dominant static, Gender Trouble is music that sings of a righteous angst of existence in a nationalistic society that continues to restrict rights and identity.
This release can make static accessible to people who love nineties techno, and at the end of the day, any artistic output that encourages people to welcome their inner need for static/white noise is one that I support wholeheartedly.
02) Unknown Infant