Pussy Riot – Kill the Sexist – album review

Pussy Riot – Kill the Sexist
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As the Pussy Riot trial continues, and seems to be becoming a landmark in both Russian and Punk/Protest history, with three young women facing jail, LTW’s Ged Babey looks at possibly the least important aspect of the whole issue, the music, from what purports to be a Pussy Riot album, mistitled in some places as Kill the Sexiest!

I downloaded this album as it’s widely available from a hundred or more sources, for free, on the internet. Many of the sites are in Russian with no translation so I cannot find the official source; and whether it is officially ”˜on sale’ or whether it is intended to be available for nothing in order to publicise the bands situation? If LTW can find the official outlet, we will tell you. The cool thing to do is of course to pay for it, if the money is going to help the bands legal fees or families.

There are six songs, the longest of which is 2:12 and the shortest 1:16. The lyrics are all in Russian needless to say, but I have copied some translations below, but can’t vouch for the accuracy of them.

To be frank, its not a proper album its six demo recordings, possibly done in a studio but more likely using a bit of home computer kit. They cut out and start suddenly, with minimal production but are powerful, lo-fi, riot grrrl punk rock with the kind of immediacy that comes from a burst of enthusiasm and need to write, play and record in one-take without any practicing or fine-tuning. This is pure punk ideology in musical action. To 99.9% of the public, even the music-loving public ”“ it probably sounds terrible. A chaotic, shouty, formless noise, the most basic of riffs, and two or three untutored non-singers screeching and shouting over the top.

To those of us who’ve grown up with punk, it belongs to what has become a tradition. The Slits and the Mekons are the UK 70′s standard-bearers for naïve, untutored punk rock. They said the Sex Pistols “couldn’t play”, but they could of course; the Slits and Mekons really couldn’t play; BBC engineers at the Slits first Peel Session attempted to tune their guitars for them”¦and were told to ”˜go away’.

Many anarchist punk bands learned to play their way, with resorting to Bert Weedon Play-in-a-Day books. American band like Happy Flowers and Culturcide were ideologically non-musicians, fuelled by boredom, mad ideas and politics but who still released records to some acclaim. And of course Riot Grrrl ”“ feminism and punk combined to create ferocious songs of freedom and empowerment, with little concession to technical skill.

“There’s no such thing as a bad punk band or a good one..”, a young punk told me once, “All punk bands are great.” He was sprawled on a pavement at the time and missing out on watching a great punk band. I knew what he meant though; punk bands are not in competition, normal rules and standards of excellence don’t apply. The only criteria on which they should be judged is if they ”˜mean it’. A ”˜pure’ punk band never even records during its life-span, like Manchester’s the Worst or the Prefects from Birmingham.

Whether Pussy Riot approve of this release I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like a cash-in; just the only recordings that are available

So, the songs; well they include the Punk Prayer that enraged the Russian Orthodox Church.. It sounds a bit like early Chumbawamba with its mock choir-girl opening and tag team punkgirl vocal.

“Putin Zassal” is a slightly more accomplished hardcore anarcho-punk type thrash.

“Death of Jail, Freedom of Protest” seems to be recorded live and has some very fast drumming and bass playing indeed.

“Deliver Pavement” and “Kropotkin-Vodka” have a definite Bikini Kill feel to them ”“ but wouldn’t have been out of place on any of the Crass Bullshit Detector type compilations from the early 80′s. They are musically at a pretty rudimentary stage but when the two or three singers sing in tandem and then together it is a angry, inspiring sound; Honey Bane singing with Fuzzbox, on speed, in Hell ”“ kinda stylee.

The most striking and bizarre track is the title song, Kill the Sexist!. The spoken/recited lyrics are Pussy Riot but the music is a ”˜sample’ of the first 11 seconds, then the first 19 seconds of a 1979 song by the Cockney Rejects, I Am Not A Fool, on a loop, until it cuts at 1:45.

The Rejects ”“a bunch of (reformed) football hooligans from the East End of London were beloved of Gary Bushell and not renowned for their sympathies to the feminist cause! The song was released on EMI originally but I wonder if who-ever owns the publishing rights now would consider taking legal action against probably the most infamous punk band, currently, in the world?

Musically, its rough, its raw, it rudimentary but like any for-real punk band, you can tell that they mean-it-maan. This is not a test. It’s not a publicity stunt.

Pussy Riot are not Wanna-be Rock-stars. They are artists who use punk rock as a way of communication their beliefs. They need our support. Which doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy this album until we know whether it is a legitimate release.

All words by Ged Babey. You can read more from Ged on LTW here.

6 thoughts on “Pussy Riot – Kill the Sexist – album review

  1. Pingback: Download the New Pussy Riot Release Kill The Sexist | dissociatedpress.com

  2. AJ

    Awesome review! Especially identifying the samples, you are a wizard. As far as I know nobody else had pinned down and published where the samples came from until this article.

    PR are more like professional revolutionaries who use music as a medium than a “band”.
    Listen to Tolokonnikova screaming on “Putin Zassal”, it ain’t a joke. They probably didn’t expect to go to jail, but they were quite aware of that possibility and kept pushing the limits.

    Being a nonconformist is a much more committed action in Russia because there could be real consequences. PR are some of the “reallest” punks of all time.

    • Kingfordian22

      They did not expect to get arrested… you’re right there. That is because the usual penalty for such actions involves a brief detainment with warning issued and a small fine. Pussy Riot have recieved those penalties before (during their detainment following the “Putin Zassal” performance in Red Square). They expected those at the most.

      But in the case of the Punk Prayer performance… initially when security removed the girls from Christ the saviour cathedral and police were called, they did not question the girls nor detain them. They were arrested a week later in FSB operations. They were not expecting this… they have said that in interviews, as they know that such penalties don’t usually apply to such actions that they take.

  3. Ged

    Thanks AJ. Good to be appreciated. Nice to get some feedback. Pussy Riot are as ‘real’ as Ari Up, Valerie Solanas, Patti Smith… and will go down in herstory, if not history.

  4. Andy

    Hi Ged, its to say that the first song includes a guitar-sample by the Angelic Upstarts (police oppression).

  5. Pingback: PUSSY RIOT - Social Vibes

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