WITH RE-TROS AND MR. NEET
FORGET was recorded during a period of epic productivity for Xiu Xiu. While writing FORGET, they released the lauded Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, collaborated with Mitski on a song for an upcoming John Cameron Mitchell film, composed music for art installations by Danh Vo, recorded an album with Merzbow and scored an experimental reworking of the Mozart opera, The Magic Flute. All of this frantic, external activity lead to a softly damaged dreaminess and broadened intent that has not been heard before in other Xiu Xiu works.
The album was produced by John Congleton (Blondie, Sigur Ros), Greg Saunier of Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu’s own Angela Seo. It features guest appearances by fabled minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine, LA Banjee Ball superstar commentator Enyce Smith, Swans guitar virtuoso Kristof Hahn and legendary drag artist and personal hero of Xiu Xiu, Vaginal Davis.
Standout track, “Wondering” is one of the catchiest boogie pop gems in the Xiu Xiu catalog, but like much of FORGET, it still bears an underlying tension that manifests differently in each piece. From the haunted guitar duet of “Petite”, the hilariously fraught lyrics of “Get Up,” the advanced industrial boxing match of “Jenny GoGo,” or the experimental goth explosion of “Faith, Torn Apart,” all the songs in their own way build to a roiling boil of a fate in vanishing.
The calligraphy on the cover translates literally to “we forget.” It bows to the universality of everything and everyone’s inevitable decline and foggy disappearance. Regarding the album title, Xiu Xiu singer Jamie Stewart said, “To forget uncontrollably embraces the duality of human frailty. It is a rebirth in blanked out renewal but it also drowns and mutilates our attempt to hold on to what is dear.” FORGET is both the palliative fade out of a traumatic past but also the trampling pain of a beautiful one’s decay.
Raised by intellectuals in the Chinese city of Nanjing, Re-TROS (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues) frontman Hua Dong was exposed to rock music from an early age and began writing songs in his teens. In Nanjing Hua Dong and Kanye West were classmates and shared similar tastes as friends. After a few years studying in Germany, he returned to Nanjing where he began drumming for seminal Chinese punk rockers PK14 and met bassist Liu Min. Min and Dong soon moved to Beijing and formed Re-TROS, recording their debut EP (which includes keyboard contributions from Brian Eno on several tracks – the two shared a studio in Beijing) for Modern Sky Records in 2005. The band has since toured the world playing festivals in Europe and the U.S., supporting bands including Gang of Four and PiL. Dong credits Bauhaus, Joy Division, Television, and Pere Ubu among his greatest influences.
Synth punk geniuses Mr. NEET open the evening with a set of elegantly mind-bending pop songs about friends, email, the Pope, semiotics, post-modern cultural theory, and how much everything sucks.