What does punk means in 2017? Is it just a style of music and clothes, buzzsaw guitars and leather jackets? An ossified museum piece, rather than an alive aspect of culture? Or is it an attitude of fearlessness, a sense of both “fuck you” nihilism and the desire for something better.
In 1978, the infamous synth punk band Suicide toured with The Clash. But there confrontational performance was too much for their supposedly open-minded audience, with singer Alan Vega gleefully reminiscing about a show where someone threw an axe at his head ” I guess we were too punk even for the punk crowd”. Suicide had the last laugh though, influencing all kind of dark electronic music.
Continuing this legacy is Angel-Ho aka Angelo Valerio aka Deep in The Pussy aka Ruffle Queen. For the 2016 performance piece Red Devil, they dressed as the titular character, waving fire around at performances which shocked the audiences at art fairs across Europe.
And now the recorded component of this work is being unleashed with the appropriately punk motto, “it’s that moment when you really don’t give a single fuck and blossom into the person you see yourself to be”. Another great release from NON Worldwide, a label which they confounded, the Red Devil LP is nine tracks of brutal bliss. The music is always intense, bordering on industrial. But from amidst the harsh digital hellscape is a palpable yearning for freedom, a world of glamour and defiance.
The work is inspired by the everyday horrors faced by black and brown, queer and femme bodies, where just leaving the home is fraught with danger. Angel imagines spitting and strutting in this face of this cruel world, with production that pops like glass being cracked under heels, of “moffie only, klopse troupe roaming through their neighborhood at 2am in the summer with their sharpened instruments ghostly parading the echo of their afternoon rehearsals.”