Tuesday, November 23, 2010

stencil #030 - miss kittin

 (bye, bye) miss kittin, lygon st, brunswick east 
(sadly gone now, up for only 12 hours!)
"Frank Sinatra" is the standout track on Miss Kittin & The Hacker’s phenomenal First Album. It’s a sardonic reflection on the superficial world of celebrity and in a way, the musical equivalent of the wry satire of Bret Easton Ellis’s writing, particularly his novel Glamorama, itself a serious hatchet job on celebrity culture.

Miss Kittin cites Ellis as an influence; the lyrics of "Frank Sinatra" reflecting the characters and the main themes of his novel. In her signature Sprechgesang satirical tones, Miss Kittin dissects with stylish precision the banality and vapidity at the heart of celebrity culture:

Every night with my star friends
We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area
We talk about Frank Sinatra . . .
To be famous is so nice
Suck my dick
Lick my ass
In limousines we have sex
Every night with my famous friends
Nice . . .
You know Frank Sinatra?
He's dead!
HAHAHAHAHA!
Dead!
It would be perfect as the theme song for the film version of Glamoramaif Roger Avary has a change of heart and decides to release it. (Take note, Roger: we don’t mind if the film is ethically questionable!) Ellis’s novel, a hilarious satire, similarly exposes celebrity culture’s denizens and proponents as self-obsessed, drug and alcohol fuelled, name dropping, derisive and permissive sociopaths whose main concern with appearances and their stunning lack of insight often horrifies. Here’s a startling exchange between the main character Victor and his business partner Damien discussing the death of the DJ they had employed to open their new club:
“Victor, she’s dead . . . She was found in a dumpster . . . she was beaten with a hammer and . . . eviscerated.”
I’m taking this in with a large amount of extreme calm. “She OD’d?”
“No . . . She was eviscerated, Victor.”
“Oh my god,” I gasp, holding my head, and then, “What does eviscerated mean?”
“It means she didn’t die a peaceful death.”
“Well, yeah, but how do we know that?”
“She was strangled with her own intestines.”
“Right, right.”
(Glamorama, 1998, 170)
Expressing ideas that have a ring of truth can be vexing. But with impressive, unsparing style, both Ellis and Miss Kittin get the tone right and come close. Ellis’s minimalist and dispassionate prose and Miss Kittin’s deadpan delivery, drained of any misleading tones, approximate to the general feeling of emptiness, absurdity, and alienation that characterises much of modern life.

I prefer Miss Kittin’s collaborations to her solo work, including: "Stripper" with The Hackeranother damn fine derisive track from this duo; "Rippin Kittin" with Golden Boya seminal, dark, irresistible dance track; and Röyskopp’s delectable remix of "What Does it Feel Like?" with Felix Da Housecat – brilliantly utilising the bland vocals of Miss Kittin and Melistar to deliver a lush, dreamy, funky dance track.

Some of her solo work is good, too. "Pollution of the Mind", an infectious anthem for misanthropes, neatly deals with a variety of modern complexes that produce angst (and not strictly for celebritiesthe angst expressed here could easily apply to public transport users in Melbourne):
People speak small talk
Flesh too close in airports (trams/trains)
Strangers you get on my nerves
Eyes staring at me
Faces looking unhappy
Headaches non-stop guarantee

Walking in bad smell
Sleeping in noisy hotels (travelling in noisy trams/trains)
Please, take a shower of silence
But at heart, the song is an expression of gratitude to friends:
Friends clean your brain
Sun can shine again
However, if friendships should go awry, Miss Kittin and Bret Easton Ellis are there to help us.

Links:

Read David Raposa’s spot on review of Miss Kittin & The Hacker’s collaborations.

Aspects of Glamorama are discussed by Steven Shaviro in his outstanding critiques of two of Ellis’ other novels, Lunar Park and Imperial Bedrooms.

More idols for the caustic and the cynical to dance to:
Ladytron; Peaches; Tiga (who has also produced a great remix of "Madame Hollywood"—"Mister Hollywood") and Chicks on Speed.

1 comment:

defeatedandgifted said...

It's a rum old world when a beauty like Miss Kittin only lasts for 12 hours!