Relix 44: Kim Gordon’s Improvisation Influences
Welcome to the Relix 44. To commemorate the past 44 years of our existence, we’ve created a list of people, places and things that inspire us today, appearing in our September 2018 issue and rolling out on Relix.com throughout this fall. See all the articles posted so far here.
Essential Punk Improvisation: From No Wave to Neo Psychedelia
When it comes to improvisation, my influences were really the No Wave music of the late-‘70s and early-‘80s, which was more of a rock hybrid and a little different then the jazz improv scene happening in the East Village at the time, with people like John Zorn.
I was listening to bands like Barbara Ess, Glenn Branca and The Static, who played this free music—some of them would write these half-songs and then improvise around them. And even when they had more of a song structure, the music they wrote was very free and had the energy of punk without being condensed into three chords.
But when it comes to influential psychedelic music for me, I must mention coming across this live 1968 Syd Barrett Pink Floyd-era video. Syd was basically sitting down playing an acoustic guitar like [Body/Head guitarist] Bill Nace, and everyone was out of their minds on drugs. There was hardly any drumming, just these very light sections in the background, and it felt like everyone in the room was dancing to a light show.
Further listening by Bill Nace of Body/Head:
Jana Rush–Pariah (Objects Limited)
Gunn-Truscinski Duo–Bay Head (Three Lobed)
Vince Staples–Big Fish Theory (Def Jam)
Okkyung Lee–Dahl-Tah-Ghi (Pica Disk)
Ellen Arkbro–For Organ and Brass (Subtext)
David Fair–Ballets (Feeding Tube)
Aaron Dilloway–Switches (Cejero)
Ragnar Johnson–Crying Bamboos: Ceremonial Flute Music From New Guinea Madang (Editions Mego)
Circuit des Yeux–Reaching for Indig (Drag City)
This article originally appears in the September 2018 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.