Kim Gordon – No Home Record
Kim Gordon’s first solo album is a breathtaking barrage of noise, anger and humour
It may seem odd that Kim Gordon, one of experimental rock’s strongest and most defining voices, has only now – after more than 35 years of producing records as parts of bands and duos – decided to release a solo album. But good god, was it worth the wait. Keeping with the discordance that existed in her previous work, whilst marrying influences from the current electronic avant-garde to semi-traditional song structures, she has forged a superb genre-spanning solo debut.
In many aspects No Home Record is a crystallising of Gordon’s longstanding interests. The fragmented poetics of her lyrics are unchanged, and her area of choice remains the spaces where the emotional and the political become entangled, particularly on the raucous Air BnB where she examines how as consumers we project our fantasies onto these temporarily inhabited spaces. She never collapses into empty sloganeering, though; her lyrics accumulate scraps of emotionally dense lived experience and allow them to coalesce into a political statement, rather than forcing the issue.
The delivery often moves away from traditional melody, becoming closer to spoken word, and it’s here where Gordon’s iconic vocals comes into their own. Her voice, in its odd texture, manages to sound hollow, like she’s almost lost her voice, without sounding airy or unrooted. While this could read like a criticism, it simply means she's capable of singing with incredible closeness and intimacy, able to move up a gear into harsh forcefulness without changing her delivery in any great manner, as on the battering, squawking maelstrom of Murdered Out.
However, as much as Gordon hangs onto many of her essential artistic characteristics, what is most remarkable about the record is the balance it achieves between sheer sonic breadth and an incredible emotional and thematic focus. Lead single and opener Sketch Artist sets the tone for the album in stunning fashion. It moves from sawed guitars akin to a romantic Japanese film score to obliterating bass tremors and scraping digital hiss, with interjections of submerged pastoral folk guitar. It works to incredible effect, a spectacular series of tenses and releases, constantly upending you as a listener. By contrast Paprika Pony melds a beat that’s not far from the laid-back end of Memphis rap with the sort of gently menacing marimba that wouldn’t sound out of place on Rain Dogs, and Don’t Play It with its tumbling drum pattern submerged in hiss and woozy sub bass calls Burial to mind.
However, despite this wild embracing of disparate genres, no song feels out of place, united as they are by Gordon’s essential vision of dissonance, tension and a very specific kind of sonic space, often clustered and dense but with an essential warmth. For all the screeching dissonance and politically infused anger present, No Home Record is a real joy of an album, proof if proof were ever needed that Gordon will not allow herself to slide into anything approaching resting on her laurels.
Listen to: Sketch Artist, Don’t Play It, Murdered Out