Xiu Xiu, La Forêt

Xiu Xiu, <em>La Forêt</em>

In an interview a few years back with Jamie Stewart, the creative force behind Xiu Xiu, the interviewer pointed out to Stewart that whenever people heard Xiu Xiu’s music, a typical reaction was often “Is this a joke?” Stewart’s response was to chuckle and say “Notice I’m laughing, so perhaps it is!”

Since that time, Stewart’s music has evolved, but it still will leave you either wholly loving it or wholly hating it. In fact, Stewart has also commented on how he prefers it that way. Essentially, a release by Xiu Xiu has to be challenging to listen to in order for Stewart to be satisfied with it.

To get a feel for the sound of La Forêt, imagine a trembling male voice whispering into a four-track about some nondescript bum-out (“I tried hard to be good to you”), random acoustic guitar plucking, and then occasional screams, bells, and walls of guitar fuzz/distortion. Some people have referred to this kind of thing as “Industrial Folk.” There are, however, a couple songs on La Forêt that sound like actual music you could listen to without wanting to kill yourself, particularly “Pox” and “Muppet Face.” But as if Stewart realized that these songs might actually be fun to listen to, he managed to fill the rest of the CD with ear trauma just so we remember it’s not for everybody.

Given this, and following a couple spins of La Forêt, I’m reminded of the first time I saw a Mark Rothko painting. I turned to my friend and said something like, “Are you shitting me? It’s a fucking red square. And not even a good one. Why the hell is this hanging in a museum? Will someone tell the Emperor that he has no clothes on, please?” My friend tried to explain how the painting was all about “challenging your concept of art,” and that it was priceless and in a museum because he (Rothko) was the first one to do it.

So, yeah, La Forêt is challenging, and Xiu Xiu’s sound is pretty unique. But is staring at a square your idea of entertainment? Boooooo.

(5 Rue Christine -- P.O. Box 1190, Olympia, WA. 98507; http://www.5rc.com/; Xiu Xiu -- http://www.xiuxiu.org/)
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Review by . Review posted Saturday, October 1st, 2005. Filed under Reviews.

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