Search for content, post, videos

Charismatic Megafauna produce an album of intelligence, wit and thought provoking lyrics

As a working definition of punk “A grassroots (at least initially), DIY, artistic expression of progressive politics that may or may not be musical” seems to do just fine. (Discuss.) It could be argued that punk rock runs the risk of becoming just another variant of metal or pub rock when it deviates from that rough definition and can easily end up perpetuating a communal ethos that has little to distinguish it from any other co opted sub cultural form lacking any distinctive egalitarian social norms or expectations.
Greil Marcus in the book Lipstick Traces connects early punk, the Situationists and the Dadaists as movements that disrupted the societies of their time (1), in that disruption they exposed the social order around them as constructs that could be subverted and overturned. ‘Your mission contemporary punk, should you choose to accept it, is to continue this line of dissent’.
The Dadaists were around about a hundred years ago, an art movement based in Zurich who as a response to the industrial scale killing of WWI set out to create art that refuted and critiqued the bourgeois rationality that dominated the narratives of their day-the rationality that had led to WWI. The Dadaists set out to create non bourgeois art by drawing on non bourgeois values and resources, this led them to draw on the irrational but also led them to draw on the art resources and traditions of civilisations other than the European. Among the most famous of the Dada artists was Hannah Hoch who pioneered collage as a medium, using it to comment on and critique society around her (2). But as well as fine art the Dadaists expressed themselves through performance art most notably at the Cabaret Voltaire.
Semi-Regular the new album by Charismatic Megafauna seems to be an expression of an art practice that fits more comfortably into the lineage outlined above than any other, it is a documentation of a deconstruction of conventional music making, the isolating, identifying and deploying of those parts considered useful in creating something fresh, vibrant and challenging for the listener, and as you listen to the album there is the growing excitement that comes from knowing it would be even better if seen live, that Charismatic Megafauna almost certainly finds its fullest realisation in the interaction of band, space and viewer/listener.
Charismatic Megafauna is comprised of Georgia Twigg, Susannah Worth and Jenny Moore and Semi-Regular is the latest musical expression of their feminism and in that sense indistinct from the rest of their lives (3). Using percussion, voice and keyboards they have created an art(ifact) based around rhythm that contains within it reminders, distorted half heard echoes of Peaches, The Knife (Shaking the Habitual), The Slits. It isn’t music that is going to allow you to relax, its confrontational, visceral, looks you in the eye and demands you engage!
The album is made up of ten tracks, first track up ‘Sorry’ engages with the expected female performance of male ego orientated relationship “She has a nice way, she has a nice manner. It’s what he likes about her, he likes the way she talks to him/he just loves the way he feels when she talks” but points out that it is the performance of social expectation and “When we say we are so sorry, we don’t mean it…she has a nice way but when she gets her way he will be sorry” all delivered over rhythmic keyboard and percussion, disquieting.
Three tracks on and ‘Guys in Spandex’ questions societies differing responses to the male and female body from the perspective of a female cyclist, that the female body is constantly commented on, always subject to the male gaze while the male cyclist’s body is uncommented on. “Guys in spandex…Guys with their packages and their bums out, yeah. No one yells at them”. Great keyboard riff, definitely danceable even when sober!
Track 6 ‘Ffffeminism’ is a sampled looped collage of an interview which highlights male discomfort with gender and feminism, concepts that threaten male privilege and the presentation of that privilege as nature not power construct with a nice percussion break coming in and continuing to build as the song progresses. Aural Hannah Hoch!
‘Context’ is a sophisticated take on the difference between being (literally) shit on by a parrot and being (metaphorically) shit on by a person. It’s the parrot acting according to nature but a person treating you badly involves choice and responsibility.
‘Sequin Shirt’ explores sexual assault and consent and the suspicion that the numbers of women who have experienced sexual assault is higher then 1 in 6.
“She told him about that time that she was upstairs at the party with his friend and she said no.
Ooooh he did not like hearing that!
She told him about that time that she was upstairs at the party with his friend and she said no.
Cuz she did not like it either.
I’m going to bet you this sequin top that it’s more than 1 in 6 ah yeah!”
This is an important album of intelligence, wit and thought provoking lyrics over a musical landscape that is cleverly textured and nuanced so that the palette Charismatic Megafauna have chosen to use never becomes repetitive or limiting. No Wave in the 1980s posited the idea that the reproduction of conventional musical skills is not essential and that the self taught musician (3) has the best chance of making innovative and original music. This album could well prove their point.

Photo by Kate Bones. Styled by Kalina Pulit.
Bibliography.
(1)Marcus, G. (2011) ‘Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century’, Faber and Faber, London.
(2)Hannah Hoch, http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/about/press/hannah-hoch/
(3)Murray, C. (2018) ‘Interview: Charismatic Megafauna’ at https://www.echoesanddust.com/2018/01/charismatic-megafauna/
also used ’30 Seconds Interview: Charismatic Megafauna’ (2018) https://www.m-magazine.co.uk/newmusic/30seconds/30-seconds-interview-charismatic-megafauna/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *