Saturday, 20 April 2013

Wild Child

"I hate and renounce as a coward every being who agrees in advance to merge, a day or an instant beforehand, in the mass-mind" - Antonin Artaud, from I Hate and Renounce as a Coward...

"He was a poor example of a man, but he was a man and these were the voices of the children, the very young children, who had not yet learned to stop trying to be heard. Only crying, only noises." - Theodore Sturegon, from More Than Human

I dunno how many bands there are called Wild Child. Last.fm says four current ones, from Texan folk bands to Brazilian hard rock, that's gotta be a conservative estimate. It's a nice name for a band, catchy, capable of succinctly summing up a mixture of innocence and freedom, with a delicious hint of rebellion, but fuck all those fucking bands and whatever their mix of of these childish flavours happen to because there's only one Wild Child that matters and that this bunch of storming fucking hardcore motherfuckers from Minneapolis where this formula is all tweaked up on the feral end, cracking apart with menace and anomic bite.

Wild Child have two releases so far (and apparently an upcoming split with Nerv on SMRT records): A 2011 demo that was pressed onto vinyl by Fashionable Idiots and Rock Bottom Records last year and a self-titled seven inch that came out a month or two ago on Deranged Records and they are one of my favourite punk bands in the world right now. Since I first heard the demo I've lost count of the amount of times I've blown through it.

'Wild child', as a phrase it can be a rueful smile at a safely decades-distanced past or it can be an unsocialised dogkid, scratching and barking. On Genie from their demo Wild Child scream empathy for these children, focusing on one the more famous cases, "GENIE IS A WILD CHILD! GENIE IS A WILD CHILD!" raging against the safety asylum walls and the hateful shitty world that led her there, an indictment of order at all costs, of help framed paternalistically, and of just a world that could let this kind of shit fly for one second. It's got insanity as both a representation of rebellion ("SHE'S GONNA YELL UNTIL SHE'S OUTTA HER ROOM!" like a hellcurdled take on AM!s "If she wants to dance and drink all night well there's no one that can stop her") and the fucked facts of pure unlearnable pain ("STRAPPED AND BEAT/UNTIL SHE KNEW RIGHT") though not without its own obliviondark unsmiling humour of its own as it roars "GENIE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT RESTRAINT!" reverberating up and down all your clean hospital halls with outcastnoise as the guitars tickle and explode.

The shit on both these releases is dangerously good. Unmendable punchy hardcore punk with buggy-thin guitars scritching and snatching at you as the drums clatter. Vocals that are just fucking everything, that screech and tear uncomfortably, perfectly, jumping from ugly animal fury into snotty spite, from minatory spoken sections into wild woken la-la-hate with painful precision, just as likely to laugh hollowly at the violence of the world as they are to scream their internal anguish as the guitar knock lumps off you like the friendly slap of passing car doors. Lyrics intoned like a threat, squealed in rabid firecracker bursts, devolving into wordless bestial hurt and thwarted wrath vocalised through snorts, growls and yelps.

The demo 7" is a bit wilder and dirtier than the new one, feels a bit warmer and more radioactive in its acrimony, and I prefer it, but both are essential punk statements, filled with all those essential punk concerns of madness, abuse, adrenaline, alienation, and anger all mined deep and swung freely in your face in a twitchy chemically-fractured phonic mugging. If I had to pin it to an other band to make a comparison then it's got some Germs to it, some F, but its a lot more unclipped and loose, it's raw but it doesn't have that thick burn of Mauser or Kromosom's rawpunk. It could be Amdi Petersens Armé at their most lawless, maybe but the place it really sits to me somewhere around White Lung with the gleam rubbed off, shine and hotsteam replaced with exposed nerve sensibilities, cockroach movements.





On some songs Wild Child contain this violence and pain to their own actions, their own heads, Viral Load framing this unaimed dissatisfaction in terms of masturbation routines ("NEVER OLD NEWS TO THE EASILY AMUSED!") grunting itself dead, sex noises stripped down to function, entirely unerotic, a grim counterpoint to something like the breathy orgasms of The Dwarves' Better Be Women where the self-abuse is just self-deprecation amidst the snark, not the lonely spillover into self-hatred. Songs like Nice Out ("THIS IS JUST A PRODUCT OF THE FILTH!") and Stay Bent acknowledge outside forces that gnaw away and stoke these feelings ("NUMBFED NUMBFED KEEP ME SICK") and Stay Bent might find itself sometimes in a hardcore chug for a second ("DOWN IN THE GUT NOTHING SEEMS TO FIT!") but its never more than a few seconds away from its crack speeding up and away into the scream of edgy panic, a bleakness that could reach its peak on This is Nothing which dismisses itself as much as it dismisses the world, declaiming nihilistic observations on human nature, slightly off-kilter chanting "Non-instinct fills the void" over another one of those mid-tempo hardcore stumbles that lives only to be kicked apart as this song literally chuckles at its own nihilism and then explodes, instruments and vocals snapping over each other, colliding as the existence of evil is affirmed, straightfaced and earnest.



Then this evil, outside, and this pain, inside, roll all into things like the suicidal ideation on Just a Thought focused blankly on the mechanics and method "What I need takes room". There's an audio clip between Just a Thought and Bogged Down on the demo. "And I'm all for animal liberation, yeah. And the right to be a pig. Because that's what it's all about." It's from Lydia Lunch (of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Harry Crews) spoken word bit called The Human Animal. A piece which begins "The human animal struggles vainly to control his natural animal instincts. So be able to better fit into the "norm" of society, a contradiction in terms. Sometimes, however, due to either chemical or hormonal imbalance, a fist of facts, or a flagrant disregard for the outdated and inhabitable so called "code of ethics", the fine line that separates the animal from the vegetable is obliterated." This is the life this band is about. Uncut energy in all its skinning misdirection, untethered from structure by realities of emptiness ("ART SCHOOL ART SCHOOL BEER BONG BLOW ME!" sears the burnout despair of You Know Rough), it cuts a disordered swathe, pulsates with desultory agony, bubbles with crudeness, even something in the closest it gets to human contact, The Date, has as its central romantic call "BEAT MY BRAINS BLUE!" and invests itself in mutual annihilation rather than salvation through connection, in the manner of Off With Their Heads' Sleeping in Carrie's Car: "HOLD HANDS LAUGHING THROUGH THE SMOG/RUNNING ROUND LIKE RABID DOGS!"

Wild Child have somehow built this particular type hardcore punk where it lives as an always active tearing that never seems to get ground out into particular rhythms no matter how many times I hit play again. The cover of their demo 7" (the original tape cover was a picture of Genie) calls up the Truffaut movie L'enfant Sauvage (The Wild Child in English) about a boy found in the woods around 1800 and a physician attempt's to teach him and integrate him into society. Wild Child have been integrated and they don't fucking like it, they've been sold a world of shit and can't decide if they hate themselves or the world more so are going to chop everything down wailing on Piss Down the Drain "SO SICK OF IT/YOUR AMBIGUOUS SHIT/ALL OF IT IS PISS DOWN A DRAIN/SILLY FIT DRIVES ME INSANE/WHAT WE WANT IS MORE AGGRESSION" surrounded by hollow mocking laughter in its bedlam, alienation drives it and defines it. That's how punk slices out a bunch of the time, my favourite bands are never bands that I would want to say "Everyone should be into this!" and not just out of my own snivelling elitism, but because this is a band dependent on how not everyone can really relate to what's expressed here, or at least aren't down with the bristling confrontational whip with which it's expressed, and if everyone felt like this all the time the world would be a trudge of unremitting tedium and horror, rather than reality's trudge of unremitting tedium and horror punctuated with uncertain frequency by moments where you can kinda get with the good stuff and feel worthwhile for a couple hours hanging with the ones you love, appreciating the beauty that there is.

The questions that rage at the heart of this band are the same that drives Truffaut's film: do we succumb, conform for our own comfort? Is that even possible sometimes? (It wasn't possible for Genie, who ended up with a life in group homes though obviously her case is extreme and distanced from almost everyone's experiences in a mammoth way.) Is society an erasure of self? When that self is so painful and broken and boneshard busted is that softening and sanitising desirable? Maybe everyone simmers down from these heights of angst at some point, comes together in calmer more controlled way (and like forms rockabilly bands or some shit) but that raw core will always be needed by those who can't control it, those coming through and up in a world they can't get much of a handle on right now beyond that it is fucked and we are fucked and that's there in Wild Child when their vocals frequently break into those barks and grunts, displaying a wrath and turmoil past language, a base dogbite comprehension encoded right down in the mammalian root notes of our acid and the words as they are clamber into one another seeking shelter in a lumpmouth mastication. Wild Child, an invitation to the fucked of head that is nasty in its aims and methods, aimless in its nastiness, trapped and skint and spitting, a maggot writhe, a gremlinpunk cackle. Our worst moments deserve good soundtracks. May those who control have our shit smeared on their shoe forever.



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