Noise can sometimes be like a hall of mirrors, distorting and reversing values in a way that provokes questions, reorients perceptions, and so on, but it also undermines the critical process. After all, if one assemblage of screeches and rumbles is judged to be “good,” why shouldn’t the next one be as well?
This is not necessarily a valid line of thought, but it does rise up in certain situations, such as when attempting to evaluate a work such as Kylie Minoise‘s (also known as Lea Cummings) Kill Ugly Pop Now! The disc starts off with a brief, annoying assault but switches quickly into a series of tracks built out of psychotic electronic bass lines turned up just to the point of distortion. The bass is cut through here and there with metallic synths that seem to bleed and glitter at the same time. There is an adrenaline-rich monotony to it all until track six, “Sacred Violence to Come!” This track exhibits a bit more structural complexity for a while but eventually reverts once again to a spastic attack on the ears. The final track is roughly twenty minutes of noise pastiche with little to distinguish it from any other experimental artistic abstraction that may be available on the market. Extremely charitable listeners might find some charm in this last track, but they will need patience.
Kill Ugly Pop Now! does have a streak of fun to it simply because of the blitzkrieg bass that dominates the central tracks of the album. But this hardly lifts the disc above the mass of other noise releases that a consumer could acquire. More importantly, it probably doesn’t even lift the disc above the mass of Minoise’s own output. Minoise’s entire catalog, including music released as Lea Cummings, amounts to a few dozen titles. On top of this recorded work, Minoise/Cummings is also a prolific visual and performance artist.
Considering this and the fact that Kill Ugly Pop Now! presents nothing overwhelmingly compelling in its sound, it might be tempting to dismiss the recording as a victim of quantity’s dominion over quality. However, Minoise’s work is often so engaging, even marvelous at times, while always remaining challenging, that there must be some complexity of intent in this work as well. If such an intent is not evident in the music, perhaps it can be found in the thematic aspect of the release. The general theme of Kill Ugly Pop Now! is indicated primarily by the exclamatory command of the release’s title presented boldly against the cover’s full-color images of Jesus, Kali, and Ted Kaczynski. Further elaboration of the theme comes by way of some, but not all, of the track titles: “Anti-Corporate Euphoria!” and “Lies Were Preferred by the People of the Shopping Malls Because They Could Be Complicit with Them!”
It does befuddle the mind somewhat to try to put all of this together. Obviously there is a strong dose of contempt for cultural pabulum here, but not all of the images and track titles line up perfectly with this theme (track one’s title, “Let’s Stuff Baby’s Mind with Diamonds!,” sort of fits, but not entirely). It’s most likely that the general hyperactivity and garishness of the sound and imagery is meant to act out the deadly aggression of the title, as if to kill ugly pop in effigy. But that alibi only brings us right back to evaluating the release for its sensual qualities.
These qualities are, of course, not so bad. This disc might well be satisfying for anyone who already owns and enjoys other releases by Minoise. But as an entry point into the Minoise’s bountiful oeuvre, Kill Ugly Pop Now! is probably not the best choice.
01) Let’s Stuff Baby’s Mind with Diamonds!
02) Electric Death Squad!
03) Yeah Fuck ‘Em All!
04) Anti-Corporate Eurphoria!
05) Mad Murder Maze!
06) Sacred Violence to Come!
07) Lies Were Preferred by the People of the Shopping Malls Because They Could Be Complicit with Them!