Melody Maker 1990

"Thrill Kill Kult hit Bum Note

By Jonathan Selzer

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult / KMFDM

The Venue, New Cross

Like their European counterparts, Play It Again Sam!, New York's Wax Trax label seems to have an underlying aesthetic.

Electronic Body Music has often aligned itself with the multi-faceted rush of modern culture, its bombast of scattered images, its breakdown into a multitude of separate subcultures all plugged into the same overloaded circuitry of the media, all taking themselves to the extreme to be heard over the din. (What the fuck is this nonsense, Jonathon? - ED) But whereas the European tendency, as exemplified by Front 242's clinically anonymous masterplan or Borghesia's anthems to politcal/sexual revolt, is to conceptualise, to take an overview, many of the Wax Trax bands understand that Americans are more fascinated by what they receive than the way they receive it. They like to objectify. Both Thrill Kill Kult and KMFDM (who are actually German, but that's beside the point) are good examples. They sound fantastically streetwise; dirty, cool, absolutely self-assured, and alien. If they actually existed as the cults they present in "real life", they'd have camera crews all over them trying to get them on the air. They're perfect media entities. They're unreal.

If KMFDM's "Naive" LP was often malignantly languorous, like a late-nite radio station broadcast froma diseased future, tonight they're a full-frontal assault, an egomaniacal tirade of self-veneration ("I'm your Satan. I'm your Christ") battering your senses into submission. the two frontmen, Sasha Konietzko and en Esch, don't just wanna be adored, they want to be bowed down to. Each stares out into the audience with nothing less than contempt, taking their adoration as a matter of course, while Konietzko makes threatening gestures over his keyboard as if to say "We want YOU!" KMFDM's sound is all mean streets and gritty future realism, like the sophisticated free-for-all cityzones of a cyberpunk novel. They remould the discarded fragments of a disposable culture into a lethal weapon while parading their turf with a dogmatic zeal. Tonight, KMFDM were on a recruitment drive, and by no account did they leave empty-handed.

Thrill Kill Kult are sleazoids, sending America's tackiest and most camp seductions (Seventies disco, boystown, "Rebel Without A Cause" style B-movies) into overdrive. A lot of people have a poor attitude towards camp, like the way middle-class liberals pretend to like crap like "Neighbours" or "The Price Is Right" while distancing ourselves from it with smug irony. TKK aren't a nudge-nudge send up, they live it. They sound like the glitziest nightclub hijacked by the lowlife that disco always parodied so self-consciously. They're "I Feel Love" with a bolt through its dick. The singer's flanked by two ultra-camp macho-men, and he';s joined by a disco-diva while siren lights rove the crowd and a mirrored glvoe spins above. TKK take all the typical icons and put them through their paces. Thoroughly. this is a fantasy you can feel, it's a disco inferno at boiling point.

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Alex Fletcher