Joyful Noise Recordings, 2019
Review by Kent Manthie
Tim Kinsella, the Robert Fripp of the circa 2000s Indie scene, is taking a break from the familiar unpredictability for which we love him and has recently completed an album with his girlfriend Jenny Pulse, a Chicago-based electro-techno artist: the eponymous Good Fuck on Joyful Noise Recordings.
Jenny is a skillful musician whose been doing her own electronic, EDM projects for some time now. Probably best known in the Chicago area but also among the hardcore EDM fans as well as anyone else who may not be strictly from techno but has a wide-ranging, eclectic taste in music as well as art in general.
In a creative outburst of genre-exploding twists, Kinsella and his girlfriend, Jenny Pulse have “consummated their love” via this project, as has been written in numerous promotional write-ups.
Also, Good Fuck is quite a difference from Tim’s other projects, e.g., Joan of Arc, Owls, Make Believe & Friend/Enemy. Instead of the “rock-based” experimental indie music, Good Fuck is the result of a “labor of love”, if you will, between Tim & Jenny.
In their collaboration, Tim delivers more of his caustic, post-modern wit via his ruminative lyrics and, though it’d be easy to split up the division of labor between Kinsella, as the creative wordsmith and Pulse as the Gothic-techno EDM/drone sorceress behind the music. But, as with many things done in the “real world” as opposed to a Hollywood, easy-to-follow/understand, accessible story, things aren’t quite as neatly packaged. In talking about the making of Good Fuck, Tim said that after it was all done the two couldn’t quite get it straight exactly who had done what as far as putting the music together was concerned.
Another fascinating aspect of their creative process was the way in which the two picked twelve books and used the various stories therein from which to draw inspiration. Books ranging from “Don Quixote to The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry”. In a way, though I’m just speculating here, it almost sounds as if they took a page from Brion Gysin & William Burroughs’s “Cut-Up” technique; though not necessarily in the “never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get” way but more like assembling a list of texts and incorporating various elements from the different stories and the myriad characters within each into the songs on Good Fuck. In their words, the literary process they utilized was pared down to a “collapse and collage”.
In searching out a place where the two could develop their music; a quiet getaway where they’d be relatively free of distractions and away from the urban scenes and hustle & bustle of the usual studio thing, Tim & Jenny discovered and were able to get into the Millay Colony, an “artists’ colony” in Upstate New York, named, no doubt, after the well-known poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. The way Tim put it: “We packed the car and drove 13 hours to the Millay Colony…in The Berkshires, miles down a private road, next to 100,000 acres of national forest”.
Listening to Good Fuck one can tell that the chemistry which has stoked their relationship has also been cohesive in the making of as well as the end result of the album.
I’ve been listening to this album as often as it takes, lately, in order to really get close to it as well as connect as best I can to individual songs. I know that as time goes on and the more I listen to certain albums I discover songs other than the ones I liked the most when I was newer to it and soon these newly discovered songs take a lead over the songs or song that initially were the impetus to my acquiring the album. Anyway, as things stand right now, I’d have to say that one song which after just two listens has really piqued my interest is the second cut, “En Garde”. It didn’t, consciously, anyway, hit me the first time I played it but shortly after the song began the second (or was it the third?) time it flashed on me that this song (“En Garde”) reminded me a little of Gary Numan; not the singing, that’s all Tim. But as far as the synths, the beat and the ethereal, futuristic (well, I suppose, if we’re talking Gary Numan here, that “future” is, more or less, NOW) dreams of ubiquitous inexorable drift into technologically-dependent, autonomic reliance on computerized control of almost every aspect of the lives of people in the so-called “first world”, while more and more violent guerrilla revolutionary warfare is basically a way of life in much of the “third world” with exceptions being in certain Edenic havens not among the instability that is the driving force of the aforementioned endless guerrilla wars; something that Aldous Huxley could never have come up with in his mescaline journeys.
Well, back to the album; a smattering of some of the other songs that I thought I’d make mention include “Fawn”, which is also a song which reaches out and grabs you, the two’s vocalizing vacillating back and forth; “Celibate” is a catchy groove that doesn’t disappoint, just like the album as a whole. “Spring Song” is an angelic techno-hymn. But is it a paean to Dionysius or to Apollo? It may depend on from where you’re coming. Then there’s “Gold”, a slow-burning, smooth bliss, glowing white-hot. Well, one more mention is “Saint Francis”, a deep-relaxation motive for an altered state and, just as a “by-the-way”, “Secret Meetings” reminded me a little of Psychic TV – a little bit.
I could really go on and on, giving a song-by-song analysis but I want to leave some room for the listener to be able to not have any preconceived notions or someone else’s take on the songs. I merely wanted to give a few examples of what to expect. This is definitely not something that any Joan of Arc or Owls fan would have come to expect from Tim but it’s more in the line of the output from which those familiar with Jenny Pulse has come to know. Still, to me, anyway, Good Fuck does not seem far-fetched for Tim Kinsella to be a part of. In fact, the more I listen to it, the more it seems like something he’d jump at the chance to be a part of. But I’m only going by what I’ve heard from him in the past. Of course, he did do it so the point is moot but I just thought I’d say so, for what it’s worth. -KM.