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GoGoGo Airheart - Real Live Kill.../Ripe from the Vine 7"

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Artist: GoGoGo Airheart

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

Label: GSL

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

The brevity and economy of the 7” format, an object of great semantic affection in the Dusted community, would seem well suited to the Gold Standard Laboratories corral, considering The Locust, Melt Banana, and Le Shok could each squeeze about a dozen tracks onto one. That GSL’s GoGoGo Airheart have only explored the medium on occasion is reasonable: the band has produced four brilliant full-lengths, and while the strength of their songs is enough to justify a single, their albums contain an intricate cohesion that may prove difficult to convey in such a context. On their recent Real Live Kill…/Ripe from the Vine split, they directly, and successfully, address the format, creating a tune at once immediate and self-contained. Essentially one song stretched over two sides, the 7” encapsulates the stylistic elements of previous GGGAH recordings in a more organic context, abandoning the synths and samples of their albums for a more driving guitar aesthetic.

GoGoGo Airheart have always seemed a bit of a contextual anomaly to their west coast noise-punk cohorts, opting often, but not always, for a more melodic disposition. The group resembles Tortoise in its ability to channel different genres without becoming subject to them: their music is always exactly what it attains to be, and as such is whole, rather than a loose pastiche of disparate styles. On previous efforts, the aggression of British punk and Daydream Nation atmospherics have framed explorations of dub-reggae, live breakbeat and bedroom electronics. Michael Vermillion’s hushed, stream of consciousness lyrics are too ephemeral to be overtly political, and too suggestive to lose themselves in abstraction. Real Live Kill… is considerably less evasive, but no less challenging, than its predecessors; elements, both poetic and rhythmic, forge internal contrast

By formalist logic, an image obtains a moss of association that makes it virtually unrecognizable through habitual, mechanical recognition; only when placed in a new context, surrounded by new linguistic, aural, and visual components does it become real again and retain its visceral veneer. A classically benign riff evocative of Gang of Four opens Real Live Kill… and remains present across both sides. After a few bars, Ben White moves in with a more foreboding chord on lead guitar, and Vermillion plumbs his typically hysterical depths of esoterica, although the track’s dubbed-out bass work remains emotionally ambivalent. Juxtaposing internal components, the mood of instrumentation shifts frequently throughout the track, propelled by the two-drummer rhythm section that sees Andy Robillard back in the fold. The lyrical theme has a similar affect, asserting “love is forever and love is whenever / you want / to take control,” latent romanticism replaced by notions of sexual and social oppression. But this is still rock, albeit self-consciously so; the GoGoGo Airheart dynamic remains, above all, an axiom of sheer intensity.

By Tom Roberts

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