Friday, February 3, 2017

All Alone Amongst the Toxic Fires


"The punk-poet tradition has not endured a healthy shelf-life. Though the florid confessionals of Patti Smith and the beatific nihilism of Vega’s Suicide remain canon, few these days recognize as essential Henry Rollins’ late stage career on the spoken word circuit or Jim Caroll’s crossover appearance in the ridiculous James Spader and Robert Downey Jr. vehicle Tuff Turf. Other names like John Cooper Clarke and Attila the Stockbroker have nearly faded entirely from view. As spoken lyrics gradually became the exclusive terrain of the hip-hop artists, those peddling in not-quite def poetry jamming soon fell by the wayside as a historical punch line.
Annie Anxiety, in both her early singles and on her debut LP Soul Possession, should be considered both inside and outside of this tradition. Each of the eight tracks on Soul Possession represent a single contained performance piece, a poem set to music, but it’s in her musical vanguardism, indebted equally to post-punk, industrial, and especially dub, that she frees herself from the musty preconceptions of what punk poetry has to sound or feel like. She adopts a perfectly suited voice for each piece, giving her license to explore a broad terrain while pinning herself to a broad ideological thread and a series of unsettling luxated dub riddim and grooves"
-new review up by me of the reissues of Annie Anxiety's Soul Possession

This was initially released on Crass's Corpus Christi imprint, which itself is pretty interesting little enclave.  If I had to guess, this was where Crass records could explore a more goth output. If you check out their output, you'll see a number of artists (UK Decay, Rudimentary Peni, Omega Tribe) who were still dangling on the fringes of punk, but who also fit neatly on those Blackest Ever Black mixes that were coming out pretty regularly a few years back.  Here, Annie Anxiety really was an outlier.  She'd later become a figurehead making the rounds with the Threshold House folk (Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Coil) and she does seem to fit perhaps better here, but it was maybe her unwillingness to divorce herself from overtly radical politics (as many of the industrial/dark ambient artists had- to the point of even venturing close to fascist flirtations at times) that made her never really lock into the groove of any one scene.  She continues to record to this day as Little Annie, where she takes on more of a dark croon aesthetic, a sort of occult Eartha Kitt that would've probably fit nicely as a female corollary to kinda forgotten early 80s camp of grumpy and frothy "dark side of masculinity" art-damaged songwriter milieu that included Nick Cave, fellow Bad Seed Barry Adamson, Jim Thirwell of Foetus, and Michael Allen of Wolfgang Press.  That lot's aesthetic seemed to be Fat Elvis with id on the outside, the Vegas strip bombast surrounded by corresponding lurid sonic exteriority

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