Protest Music To Dance To: U.S. Girls Brings Everywoman Americana to the Kantine am Berghain

U.S. Girls is chiefly one name only, young American Meghan Remy, who hails from Chicago’s surrounds and lives now in Toronto. Her catalogue indicates she’s made music for a decade, though critics quibble about the count of her releases.

Whatever the number, she’s found some dozen plus publishers to imprint discs that span a gamut of sounds. Remy, fast-fashioned diarist, worked in avid privacy on brief dirges whose hooks hide muffled under cruddy mics and novicehood. One scents in her early, murmuring tape loops a buried intrigue, some perfume promise lurking furtive among her tinkerings with mothball drones. The pitch of Remy’s voice and the percussion’s captive, down-a-cavern echo hint at blooming in ampler light, if only she’d coax the bud into the open and reseed it under the sun.

The carouseling of her merry thieves’ finds Remy hopping from genre floe to genre floe, cribbing riffs and rhythms from stalwarts of glam, disco, and no-wave

Remy found her garden over the Canadian border, with marital and musical partner Max Turnbull (FKA Slim Twig) and her induction into his underground. The claustrophobic fog that swirled in her first forays dissipates in bits as one progresses through her records towards the present. Instrumentation, courtesy usually of a cast of reliably and wildly diverse players, takes on firmer lines and forms of greater conviction, as via the mitosis of amoebae or ice shelves. The carouseling of her merry thieves’ finds Remy hopping from genre floe to genre floe, cribbing riffs and rhythms from stalwarts of glam, disco, and no-wave. Her singing, too, though occasionally rife with mazes of static, breaks apart into snippets discernible as words, even as some lyrics remain plainly cryptic.

This past winter’s In a Poem Unlimited, find Remy working obliquely, exercising, in her own words, the amalgating powers of a director

As the move to a new hub of ethnic and stylistic cosmopolitanism marked or motivated a shift in the vector of her artistry, Remy’s signing to the enigmatic roster of indie stalwarts 4AD further affirmed the angle and multiplied the force of her movement down the groove she’d dug. Her latest pair of albums, 2015’s Half Free and this past winter’s In a Poem Unlimited, find Remy working obliquely, exercising, in her own words, the amalgating powers of a director.

In both records’ instance, she stands both to the side and at center, a slew of dexterous and adventurous session musicians at her command, threading cutting writing on the gendering of power through scenes replete with small details. On one dreamy track after the next, she dons a different mask, assuming the shapes and names of female and feminine characters that have in the annals of pop music too often languished in the dark of the margins. She speaks from the manifold identities of those who suffer a subjection to male action, without ever themselves fully forming subjects: a wife widowed by the Iraq war (Damn that Valley); a reverie acolyte of Uma Thurman’s vengeful Bride (Velvet 4 Sale); and a woman who prostitutes herself to St. Peter to guarantee her keyed entry into heaven (Pearly Gates), among others.

Contrary to the theatrical quality of this persistent disguising, Remy insists that she intends to render a multi-faceted portrait of an Everywoman, a mirror-sphere reflection of the Average American Joe that Springsteen spoke into being.

She bears reverent witness to her chameleonic characters but deplores the patriarchy whose violences define the conditions for those personages’ existence.

Her girls cope as best they may, in small subversions of a male monopoly on a prerogative to power. Their methods, as Remy would put, find a ready parallel in the audience that watches her stage. As she twists costumed at the center of the disco ball, flashing the visages of the put upon, the motion of her music demands that we do the honor that these women in this moment deserve: we are obliged on their behalves to begin a movement, to raise our voices and our hands, to get up and dance.

Facebook Event: US Girls, 03 May, Kantine am Berghain

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