Dusted Reviews

GoGoGo Airheart - Exitheuxa

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: GoGoGo Airheart

Album: Exitheuxa

Label: GSL

Review date: Jul. 2, 2002

At a time when references to the Factory, 99, and 4AD catalogues have assumed the proportions of a full-blown antiquarian exploit, most bands summon little more than a misguided attempt to recreate a bygone social dynamic. No one in the current punk community could necessarily be accused of aping an aesthetic, but it’s difficult to break new ground without capsizing in the axioms of amped everything and refined socio-political agendas. Aesthetic direction, after all, is a conscious decision and a question of judgment; intensity and innate ability is another matter entirely. In the case of GoGoGo Airheart, these elements come together so fluidly throughout the band’s discography, in every style and emotional register they’ve opted to explore, that their new LP is naturally, even predictably, triumphant.

That said, Exitheuxa may prove the innocuous champion of punk’s arthouse-via-disco aspirations, and almost unconsciously so. Their second full-length for Gold Standard Laboratories, GoGoGo Airheart have previously plumbed the depths of disinherited social consciousness on their self-titled 2000 release (per subtitle: “out every window the snap of envy and greed”) and their own variety of live-studio mayhem on a raucous 12” for Chicago’s Overcoat label. Earlier still, the band filled out the halcyon Vinyl Communications roster with the Spacewürm-produced debut, a challenging conglomerate of synth textures and moody dub-punk. But even beyond their Morphean sensibility, the quartet has always been a contextual anomaly, more introspective and digital than SoCal hardcore, and less house-oriented than New York punk, historically closer to the polemics and beatfuckery of the Pop Group and 23 Skidoo. For while there’s plenty of dance on Exitheuxa, it operates with a purview reaching beyond the party, where movement in general becomes an evasive metaphor.

All the same, the material on the new GGGAH record is too broad to justify the reduction of influence. A thoughtful conglomerate of 60s pop sensibility, punk, and Stones-era rock muscle, Exitheuxa is more ephemeral than definition could hope to accommodate. Only when the band does affect a particular genre, as on the surf-crusade calisthenics of “Move Along”, does it come up short of brilliant. As for bass player A. Vyas, we can only assume he’s been waiting for the type of understated limelight the new release affords him ever since the quartet’s earlier forays into dub, when his was a somewhat isolated force. For while the more bombastic material on Love My Life, Hate My Friends and The Things We Need diminished his virtuosity to a type of ballast, the more subtle guitar phrasing and percussion breaks here provide Vyas with the opportunity to drop one infectious bass line after another. “When the Flesh Hits” finds him decidedly in control, blazing the way with a disco beat in one of the best esoteric dance tracks in recent memory.

An evidently key criterion to the GGGAH stamina, at least on record, is a constant verging on implosion, their material the result of several dynamic elements pulling in different directions, but bound taut to one another. Tension, perhaps the most apt contribution of punk to the pop format, is yielded well throughout Exitheuxa. The guitar work of Michael Vermillion and Benjamin White, increasingly foregrounded in the mix as the band moves further from their dub-synth methodology, assumes a tone of urgency. Meanwhile, Vermillion’s generally abstract lyricism flaunts a singular self-defiance that could best be characterized as playful alienation. This time out he’s less, if but slightly, preoccupied with disparaging hypocrisy, and he even drops some romantic references on “My Baby Has a Gang” and “Last Goodbye”. Yet, in the context of the movement of the band, his rants on social and sexual ennui achieve the force of political upheaval. Such moments are the best that any manifestation of rock has to offer, when the music assumes a force and grandeur alien to its parameters but familiar to its audience by virtue of the fervent vein from which it draws. Through their ability to dramatize the everyday, they speak to two levels of possibility, reveling in the mundane and the idiosyncratic alike.

Exitheuxa will likely prove the all too infrequent phenomenon of a breakthrough release that actually merits the attention it will receive. Even if not entirely congruous with the material preceding it, the album presents a band on the critical cusp engaging the same techniques in a slightly different context of genre. At the height of their power, as GoGoGo Airheart is on this record, the band could likely tackle any style with reasonable promise of success; their consistency trustworthy, one can only hope they continue to expand their understated genius and defiance of classification on future recordings.

By Tom Roberts

Other Reviews of GoGoGo Airheart

Real Live Kill.../Ripe from the Vine 7"

Read More

View all articles by Tom Roberts

Find out more about GSL

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.