The secret of [a]Add N To X[/a]'s seamy allure is that, despite the singer-free, guitarless, techno boffin outerwear, they just like [a]Jon Spencer[/a] play full-blown, black-hearted, wet-panted
Tonight is not about theory. It’s not about R Buckminster Fuller, the man who dreamt of a perfect living machine and who [a]Add N To X[/a] naturally named a song after. Or Pierre Henry, the French [I]musique concrhte[/I] guy who Ann, Barry and Steve flatter by imitation, or any of the avant-hard stuff they go on about in interviews.
No, the first night of [a]Add N To X[/a]’s tour is about physiotherapy. About using sinister-looking machines to teach the assembled curious how to use their bodies. About metal fingers stabbing your pleasure centres and provoking a mass ass-freeing, limb-flinging shimmy. ‘A new heart to analogue’, it says in small letters in a corner of the ‘Avant Hard’ LP sleeve, but Add N To (X) are chiefly responsible for giving analogue a whole new set of legs.
The secret of [a]Add N To X[/a]’s seamy allure is that, despite the singer-free, guitarless, techno boffin outerwear, they – just like Jon Spencer – play full-blown, black-hearted, wet-panted sex-music. What concerned parents in the 1950s called the Devil’s music, and we know as rock’n’roll.
The proof? It’s in the stormtrooping shiver of ‘The Black Regent’, the death metal pile-up of ‘Buckminster Fuller’, the grubby blues for an old synth, ‘King Wasp’. It’s in Steve‘s gasping-fish facial expressions, Barry‘s axe-hero masochism as he throws his equipment around, Ann‘s ash-dangling sadism. It’s in the punk rock-ishly short set (does 35 minutes count as premature ejaculation for machines?) and in the did-the-earth-move-for-you-too? vibe in the crowd as ‘Sir Ape’ gives off rot-gut frequencies.
It’s in the way all artifice is stripped away, leaving the machines free to say: fuck art, let’s rock, as their three organic lieutenants look on, smiling.