In An Expression Of The Inexpressible
Touch And Go
By: Eric G.
Blonde Redhead always gets compared to Sonic Youth, but they don’t sound that much alike. Perhaps, subliminally, journalists are inclined to compare the two since Blonde Redhead’s first two records came out on Steve Shelly of Sonic Youth’s label Smells Like Records, and, maybe, because Blonde Redhead frequently uses dissonance and alternate tunings as dynamics in its music. Blonde Redhead is more influenced by bands like Pere Ubu and DNA (“Blonde Redhead” is a DNA song)- bands that experimented more with song structure than with tone.
Produced by John Goodmanson and Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, In An Expression Of The Inexpressible, combines no-wave guitar interplay and haunting distant melodies. Noticeably absent is a bass guitar in the mix. Vern Rumsey of Unwound filled those shoes on the last record, Fake Can Be Just As Good, after original bassist Maki Takahashi left, but this time the band opted against having any outside musicians. The result is much sparser and shrill. Both Amedo Pace’s and Kazu Makino’s vocals are difficult to delineate from their guitar playing. Makino’s voice cracks and squeals disconcerting notes that accentuate her broken phrases, and Pace’s voice is unnaturally high, weaving in and out of the bleating tone of his guitar. The lyrics read like fractured poetry, and they are sung even more obliquely, sounding at times like a foreign language. The phrasing is repetitious, and it builds with the music. Ironically, the only song that actually is in a foreign language (French), “Futurism vs. Passeism Part 2”, is annunciated clearly.
Amedo’s twin brother Simon’s drumming is deliberately tight and simple, serving more as a backdrop than a force, allowing the calculated guitar work to guide the course of the songs. Simon also plays keyboards, which surface in fluttering spurts throughout the record, adding a filmic quality to the music. The band has weeded out any extraneous elements that may have lingered on previous albums without compromising its experimental core. This music hardly sounds like two guitars, drums, and a voice could create it. It swells far beyond its physical limitations.