After a fifteen year span, I finally obtained the fourth and final Gina X Performance album in my collection after LTM reissued them all on CD in 2005. This was the one which I never even had on LP. In fact, until the time of reissue, I had no idea it existed since info on GXP was incredibly scant in the earlier days of the internet. Reference books I had on music conspicuously omitted any reference to this album as well, adding to its mystery.
The sound of this album showed GXP getting back to what they did best, slinky electro at a slower, more deliberate pace. The only track here that has the bouncy, singsong quality that scuttled much of their previous album was “Babylon Generation.” And even that track, aces most of “X-Traordinaire.”
The opener “I.C. Code” traffics in New Wave techno-babble soundbites. It has a brisk pace without sounding too chirpy. “Horror Vacui” [fear of emptiness] is a more representative track that better exemplifies the dark tone of the album. Kikoine uses the phrase to embody a “morbid fear of death” and the tone of the song certainly suggests morbidity, with its lyrics of “washing down corpses.”
One of the most fascinating songs here is “Kaddish,” based quite literally on the Jewish prayer service following a death. In this case, that of Moishe, the song’s subject. The bridge continues on to describe the tenets of Hassidic Judaism, presumably the sect to which Moishe belonged. The pace here is appropriately funereal and the dark tone for once in the GXP, has nothing to do with transgressive sexuality. The tone of this song is an intriguing experiment that the band took that I found to work like crazy.
“Video Draguer” posits a world where extensive video cameras can enable one to become their own voyeur but the song doesn’t stop there. With rampant cameras in all parts of society, the notion is floated that we will all become exhibitionists for the legion of hidden voyeurs who are monitoring our every move. Pretty far reaching a concept for a song released in 1981!
Side two of the original album then enters a thematically stygian zone from which no light emerges. It almost seems like Zeus B. Held and Kikoine might have seen the film “Cruising” and thought “let’s get some of that action!” The sense of controversy that came naturally to “Nice Mover” and seemed gratuitous on “X-Traordinaire” by this time had become willfully perverse. This results in more than one song with lyrics about fisting and one song called “Pederast Dissection,” which is about just that grisly subject matter. I still can’t figure out what “Kiruna” is about. Ostensibly it’s a song about the city in Sweden, but as far as I know, there are females there.
So, the overall sound of this album is an improvement on the previous album, but the lyrical content seems to be trying double dog hard to be controversially white hot; making the album have an overly forcible tone of transgression that only distances. The obscurity of this album leads me to believe that the nature of the songs led labels not to license the album for other territories. Only Germany saw the release of this album back in 1981. Clearly a dead end had been reached here. “Kaddish” was a tributary that pointed to a way our of the artistic cul-de-sac that the group found themselves in but would they be open to its suggestions?
Next: …the final chapter