If you want to stream the reissue of Harry Pussy’s 1996 noise-rock record Ride a Dove, you’ll have to take it as a single, 30-minute track. Prince pulled this trick on Lovesexy, but while that seemed like an arbitrary assertion of creative control befitting as obstinate a prankster as the Purple One, Ride a Dove demands to be consumed as a monolith. The divisions between songs here are as moot as the divisions between instruments, which melt away into a holistic slab of guitar-drums noise and dense cement-bath distortion. Whether or not there are any “songs” – the basic building block of rock ‘n’ roll – here is up for debate, even between different versions of the same record. Think those moments on the Stooges’ Metallic K.O. where you can hear bottles ricochet off Ron Asheton’s strings, then distend them into a full album. That’s Ride a Dove.

The only thing that’s certain here is the presence of Adris Hoyos, the octopus-creature at the sonic and geographic center of Harry Pussy. She takes up a lot of space and defends it fearsomely. Most drummers pick a side of the kit and bash out a beat on it, but Hoyos extends her arms to hit everything she can within whacking range. These are not beats but a robust exertion of presence. And the screams. I’m not talking rock ‘n’ roll screams, I’m not even talking about the controlled volleys of noise Yoko Ono (to whom she’s often compared, not just as a musician but as a wife working with her husband in avant-garde music) lets loose. I mean real screams: the alarming, distinctly feminine sound Fay Wray was famous for, though Hoyos is at least as much like Kong. By centering the drums as the lead instrument rather than the worshiped guitar, by using a sound culturally tied to innocent victimhood and the sexual frenzy of female rock fans as an instrument of jarring punk power, Hoyos subverts the power dynamics of the traditional rock band in more ways than one.

Once you’re past the abrasion of the sound itself, the litmus test is Hoyos’s voice. The sounds she makes hit on a primal, animal level. And there’s an extra step for the male listener, because women who make primal sounds or who sing less than conventionally tend to be pegged as talentless and annoying whereas their male counterparts are praised as punks who don’t give a fuck. Whether you find Ride a Dove exhilarating or irritating is subjective, but if the latter it’s worth examining why.

If you’re listening to Ride a Dove in 2019, though, it’s likely because of Bill Orcutt, Hoyos’s husband, whose great run of solo guitar albums and free-improv collabs this decade cemented him as one of the most thrilling instrumentalists in the last quarter-century of rock. Though his Korg is the source of a lot of the post-production squall, his scrabbling leads – which resemble nothing so much as tumbleweeds made from barbed wire – only occasionally rise above the din. Orcutt can be a powerful guitarist, but Ride a Dove leaves no doubt as to whose show it is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Mux Mool: Skulltaste II

Consistency is good and fine, but it can be just as much of a thrill listening to an album…