Title: London Hammersmith Odeon
Author: Dele Fadele
Publish date: 30th August 1986
ART OF NOISE
LONDON HAMMERSMITH ODEON
THEIR TIME, like the strained smile on celibacy’s face, is desperately short. Like the tame, trained, caged bear all their disregard is now marshmallow; their mouths don’t have the proper shape for prophecies. No longer “dropping stormtroops behind enemy lines in Time”, Misnomer are presently a Theatre without plot, theme, narrative or characterisation, an Orchestra sanely conducted by some stuffed-shirt malcontent, unconcerted curators quite happy to repackage the avant-garde for easy consumption and smother all experience into a symmetrical, homogenous whole.
What experience?… it’s all pre-programmed, pre-recorded, pre-packaged, pre-dissolved and as removed from hyper-real life as any dictator: watch four guitarists throttle ‘Peter Gunn’, three backing vocalists beat Andrew Sisters wings; or numberless sessioneers fill space and struggle against the backing tape’s stranglehold. Grimace while they take after-song bows. Fidget in lieu of yet another drawn-out, well-arranged opus ‘movements’ like those of disease, work, poverty and religion; something to suffer, an excuse for failure, a justification for nothing.
And why should they be blown away like chaff in the wind?… Once Upon A… ‘Beatbox’ was a revelation: Sly Stone sampled (“Bop-du-bup-du-buum”), skewered, and tarred with High-Art dilent-tantism (small wonder Urban USA fell at the first bell)… tonight it’s a Yessong, refracting Misnomer’s relationship with technology - like wandering salespeople testing out new vacuum cleaners, they lead us into the intricacies of two-grand Fairlights but the end result is less Duane Eddy, Television or Musicology than alphabet blocks, loss of meaning.
The disconcerting thing is: these are the established controllers of new-pop strategies; the cutting edge; the dream image as fetish. Ann Dudley and JJ Jeczalik, when not recast as dabbling jazzers or smart classicists (?), help make the objects of popular culture competitive by producing, programming and adding a dash of faked-art. It is their principal function - though hardly their avowed purpose - to stem off new unrests by endlessly imitating, though never learning from, yesterday’s mistakes - where their efforts, like those tonight, “lack finish complexity, stasis, individuality, coherence, depth and endurance”.
Make no concession to this triumph of skill over all; gauchery over ineptitude it’s kiss-off time.