Karen Finley-the truth is hard to swallow LP:
Good grief! What do you know about Karen Finley? So my precision on the exact historical account will be straight scabrous, but Karen was (& may well still be) an arch nutty bitch from Chicago who took a penchant to shall we say “insalubrious” & histrionic performance art. Somewhere in the 70’s or 80’s she shifted to California before eventuating in New York. My reference is her records & not her performance art, which I have never witnessed nor studied. This particular emesis episode, the Truth is Hard to Swallow, is from 1987. Now, Karen really is a wing-nut! Her theme is basically stupid, hyper crude, ridiculously explicit, amateur, screamy, tattered & badly misshapen-rap styled hysteria, cobbled into strings of grossly swollen, tangential & thoroughly nonsensical Tourettes. She is nuts! Nuts! From the little I am aware (the B-side of this album is also entirely from a live theatrics performance, with audience), her live phantasmagorias entail nudity & food-stuffs (a proclivity for condiments I believe) & an extremely energetic degree of lewd & frantic excess. flagrant, salacious, crass, obscene, manic & frequently – scatological even. This is a ridiculous tapering of the New York art scene circa late 80’s, but the lass wouldn’t be out of place in some kind of Power Electronics out-fit, a form of fringe Noisegrind or antinomian weirdo post punk lark. The bulk of music accompanying this dour display of rankled bat-shit is mostly ultra-trashy (but well produced) commercial rock & synthetic dance-floor destined, chart-leaning gout with the classic 80’s high-end uber drum-machine gloss. It’s over this strange selection that Finley sprays her bilious freakery. I mean what do you say? The stuff is frequently disgusting… Finley possesses no qualms about delving way’ way beneath the belt & parading plenty of perversions (definitely not to my taste). She also regularly rants from what sounds like a bloke’s perspective (in the rule-free bad-lands of Finley lore, you will often hear her speaking from random perspectives with no connecting narrative, just abruptly bulging out of no-where), albeit usually aimed at men/a dude or some random sentinel of opposition (there’s even a wry admission of “penis envy”). You can try & figure it out, but I think it’s all really just a massive blast of intemperate, barely voluntary discharge acting as a current for extreme theater & I suspect personal catharsis. Beside some more contrived/detailed tactic’s/material (we are getting to that), I don’t know how much content there is available to grasp other than the novelty of some bint just foaming childish pornographic inanities. If that’s your gig, then this shit will blow your stacks, but I am not sure much else is offered (it’s also frankly just too gross for my arse). Despite my overriding dismissal, I definitely feel some level of respect or acknowledgement should be bestowed on mad Karen (she’s clearly got it anyway). It’s 1987 for goodness sakes….this must have shocked the senators to the clouds & back. at what expense? & for what? Well, maybe so, but there it was. & indeed, my grasp of the exact is shallow, but Karen did have her art subsidy rescinded over obscenity issues or some such. She & a few other artists took it to court & won (under “freedom of speech” I would imagine. ‘Bitches With Problems’ were not so lucky)! I think she is some kind of feminist hot-shot these days, still prone to rolling around in lead-shavings & lard whilst screaming pandemonium. Anyway – the track I like most on the album & that really stands out is bizarre “Sacred Meat”. It’s alarmingly apparent throughout the album that Karen has been through some mad shit over the years, some quite possibly really awful. Musically this track (as well as hints through her diatribe) enacts some kind of Middle Eastern mimesis or Idian-esque parody through a sampler/synth….. it’s mental & preposterous but also pleasingly whacked-out & mellifluent. It ends up as a marvelous piece of untraceable surrealist bleurk WTF! A far better grafting than the kitsch Disco-Rock toss. “Tender Animal” really shows you how unhinged this LP is… it seems with all sincerity & amongst such flagitious & revolting blaspheme, Karen decides/tries to do some deep poetic love ballad swaddled in suggestive prose. Completely’ completely nuts! Completely.
Flip the rekad! Three pieces from a live show (no music). The first cut (the Constant State of Desire) is a great piece & displays far more lyrical adroitness than the previous rash out-bursts. It also strays into Karen’s anti-capitalist mode, which is when I like her best. The wankers of Wall Street get fucked-up good ^ ^ . the rest goes on a bit, especially as she uses the same vocal techniques that lose their initial charm. All in all, I don’t really know what to conclude with? What a complete nutter. Despite being soaked with sexual secretions, it’s an absolutely unsexy affair (off-putting even). It’s meta bonkers though.
Tales Of Taboo 12” single:
Bloody hell! Once again….but this is a dot in the piss-patch compared to the Truth is Hard to Swallow LP. The music is horrifically dire…it’s practically muzak. Karen rarely whip’s-up enough to counter aside the odd mad-line penned-in tight amongst a torrent of nasty feculence & gyna-grot. It’s just a long & limp sick-bag brimming with the most rancid nonsense & two appalling instrumentals. You definitely can’t fault her loon credentials though.
Label: Pow Wow Art International