by Travis Jeppesen on May 4, 2008
They say No Bra is all tits and wonder, but they’re wrong. There’s also a lot of cock, and even some fake mustache. This isn’t music for the masses; it’s music that makes fun of the masses – or at least that quotient of the masses that imagines it constitutes an elite.
Susanne Oberbeck dreams of fags and slags, then writes songs about those dreams. She’s singing to herself; the homeless guy on the street. She makes up her own rhythms rather than morphing her madness into someone else’s. There is no other music like this. There’s no spite or cynicism in the stories she tells about the people around her, the people in her dreams. Just a curiosity, which is a natural curiosity; it is rooted in an awareness that people are unknowable, that no matter how close you get to another person, they will always remain a stranger. At a time when electronic music has devolved into fashion and most of its practitioners are visionless victims of pathetic trends, No Bra inserts something closer to the grit of realism into its sound. No Bra doesn’t seem to care if you dance or not. This is a music that isn’t necessarily social, although it can be. It’s an introspective kind of music, introspective and personal. It mumbles and it beeps. Yet it remains whorish and singular and tough to digest.
Oberbeck is fascinated with the illusion of gender – an illusion that, in its systematic guise, has been transmitted throughout the holes and hollows of history, bringing us into the now. She questions this weirdness, and is thus viewed as weird herself. She understands that what can’t be readily understood gets people’s attention. This is why No Bra never feels the need to declaim anything musically; it is rather presented as a form of being – something we’d much rather experience, anyway, as long as that experience is visceral and transitory.
This leads us into the threat of violence that so much of this is predicated upon. No Bra’s characters go to the gay sauna, get their hearts and necks broken. This makes sense; there are many types of pain, why should the pop song only focus on one?
“You make me feel like a woman – You make me feel DEAD.”
Why don’t I chop my own cock off and give it to you as a present (i.e. as a present absence)? Maybe you’d be able to discover a use for it that I’d never, it currently being in my possession, if you can call it that when it’s up someone else’s ass, when I’m literally attempting to invade something, someone I can never comprehend. What is my cock doing while I’m sitting here writing this. Is it asleep. Polka-dot boxers. My first pair. I don’t own them anymore, I don’t remember what happened to them. Chairs on the TV, and when we go by the river at night, are the lights contained inside it? Submerged? I am starting to think there are answers. Answers that make sense. As though we lived in such a world. When the lights dim, does the Actual start to appear? My father was a teenager once. I didn’t know him then. Should I be angry with him because every time he jerked off, it meant I could’ve been born sooner? No, for what if I’d have cancer now, as a different being. I call certain people up in my mind, remember to tell them things it may be too late to be saying. Instead all morphs into shadow. We begin to block out the circumstances. It shows great concision. Those aspects of ourselves we pour so much psychic energy into ignoring, the hopeful result to be that others won’t notice them. Those others become fixtures in our thought landscapes. A nebulous guide. The fields generate their own sadness. You don’t need to lie to yourself to imagine boiling. You are just taking a picture – yourself in another vein. Or perhaps vain. You solve problems every day, you build an engine. No one else inside. Just the pathetic memory of being there, the substances consumed, the blunders made. The railing meant to keep out the goons – but not their stares.
To allege control over circumstances once seemed worth it.
There is a certain interpretation of loss being proffered here. One that entails a misjudgment, or the positing of misjudgment as a possible alibi. Where exactly in the soul does guilt come to be located?
Pastiche is fucked, so is irony.
A voice is there. It makes you aware.
What do your friends look like. When you begin to destroy your surface. Being dead and alive at once. You fall asleep inside yourself, all external reactions pre-programmed. That sort of sci-fi gayness, retrofuturistic faggotry, assert a nod to this week (month/year)’s whim. Grimness is saturated in the desertion of all principled stances, observational annoyances registered in the gesticulation of a tic. The city with its ridiculous way of talking – the darkness and absurdity in its gross dialects. Don’t judge my detritus; I’ll pretend not to notice yours.
Susanne Oberback by Christophe Chemin