Katie Alice Greer - Barbarism Music Album Reviews

Katie Alice Greer - Barbarism Music Album Reviews
The debut solo album from the former lead singer of Priests feels caught between reality and nightmare, balancing dissonant soundscapes against an eerie, self-possessed sense of calm.

Since 2015, Katie Alice Greer has released solo music as KAG. Then she realized her Twitter algorithm was flooded with MAGA content: Turns out KAG is also short for “Keep America Great.” The grossly ironic overlap highlighted one reason why Greer has adamantly resisted describing her music as “political.” Everything is political; the word’s value as a descriptor has lost its potency. Greer recognizes that our vocabulary hasn’t evolved as fast as conditions have deteriorated. But her music melts the myth of American order into a hot waxy soup. Her debut solo album, Barbarism, casts a bleary yet charged gaze on recent history. These 11 songs feel caught between reality and nightmare.

As the former lead singer of Washington, D.C. punky-tonk group Priests, Greer is known for sharply polemical words delivered with a bratty wail or an operatic howl. But on Barbarism she sounds possessed. It’s unnerving how calm she is over the noisy drone of “Fake Nostalgia,” where she sings about “a simpler time” and “a sense of certainty that was never mine.” Her chilling composure stands out, harnessing the mindset of those fixated on going back, whether to a pre-pandemic normal or an antebellum fantasy. The contrast between the industrial background and her rose-tinted vocals illustrate the futility of looking to the past while the present is on fire. Despite her brainwashed tone, Greer is trying to escape the trap: “I don’t want to go back to some old life,” she sings. She’s calling from an alternate dimension, trying to break through a Twilight Zone mirage.

This extreme pivot from Priests’ serrated rockabilly-punk isn’t new for Greer; she’s already penned throbbing industrial electronic music about Diana Ross and lo-fi surf grunge inspired by the 1947 film Black Narcissus. “FITS/My Love Can’t Be,” the new album’s paranoid opener, is the closest Greer comes to hooky post-punk here. “There’s been a lot of talk about what happens when we sleep,” she announces in the opening line. Later, she mentions surveillance and police informants. Maybe Greer doesn’t mean literal sleep at all, but the act of looking away: from the theft of personal data, the rise of citizen policing, or the erosion of privacy. Warped steam engine drums transition into a tornado of percussion—a stampede’s rumble, sonar pings, a tinny alarm, marimba patters, as confused and overstimulated as life in the 24-hour news cycle. Her voice is sharp, almost cheeky as she sings: “A spectator sport and more popcorn when you’re bored.” Unfortunately, that captivating, acerbic tone doesn’t reappear elsewhere on the album.

The sound of Barbarism is like a machine at work, but it’s unclear if it’s malfunctioning or operating at max capacity. Drums, guitars, and synths are ripped, mangled, and plastered back together with industrial glue. Fleeting melodies and cultural references float by like jetsam in the waves. There’s an unrecognizable sample of a Bernie Sanders speech accompanied by the click of a typewriter on “Flag Wave Pt. 2” and a slightly more identifiable sample of Dorothea Lasky’s poem “Porn” coupled with metallic hiccups on “No Man,” which takes its title from John Donne. “There was no cotton in England to grow/A million miles away and a big bank loan,” Greer sings in a silvery tone, a brief, impressionistic history of American opportunism. “I know in my bones/I am entitled to something.”

Barbarism is a deranged playground, a portal to uncomfortable feelings in an increasingly uncomfortable world. Like a half-remembered dream, it seems to continuously promise access to hidden answers, if only we could penetrate the chaos. And though it’s grating, uneven, and perplexing, Barbarism feels familiar. Lansky, the poet, has talked about the compassion of art that appeals to our impulse for evil. “This sense of the demonic is beautiful because it has to care about who it’s targeting,” she said. “It’s a way to seduce the reader into an intimate place. That’s all a demon wants. It wants to be heard like any other restless spirit.” On Barbarism, Greer is possessed by the uncomfortable and the alien. Falling into her world, it’s hard not to be possessed in return.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Katie Alice Greer - Barbarism Music Album Reviews Katie Alice Greer - Barbarism Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on July 06, 2022 Rating: 5


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