(TW: sexual assault. This review mentions the rape of Larkin Grimm. I am not going to debate you in the comments. I am well aware of the existence of 'Hard Rock'. That cassette was published in 1983. Be civil, please.)
Lydia Lunch: singer, writer, actress, anti-commercial woman, speaker, poet, prophet.
This ten minute album dropped nearly ten whole years before 'Public Castration is a Good Idea' and is, in my opinion, the most influential no wave album, spearheading the no wave movement in NYC in the mid to late 70's. The first time I heard it it blew my fucking mind.
The tracks are short and disorienting, jabs of sound cut off before the listener even has time to digest them. Lydia's screams over the whining guitars are bloodcurdling. The pounding and pace of the instrumentation is as close to a human heartbeat in musical form I've ever heard: its rawest, most uncensored form.
You can tell where Sonic Youth's sound was inspired by Lydia's work from the opening track, 'Freud In Flop.' Lord do I wish we got to hear more from Harry Crews, a short-lived no wave-influenced hardcore punk and crossover thrash girl supergroup with Kim Gordon on bass, Sadie Mae on drums, and Lydia on guitar.
At large, the music industry is male-dominated. In the same respects, the music critic scene is male-dominated as well. My introduction to no wave at age 12 was 'Public Castration[...]" rather than the influences behind it, and what I consider a much stronger representation of the no wave scene. I only heard about Lydia Lunch in late high school, around when I was 17 or 18, more than 5 years later.
Michael Gira's admission of guilt to raping 34-year-old Larkin Grimm at age 62 spoke volumes to the power differences between the sexes in this industry. Grimm described receiving hate mail from so many men. Grimm writes, shortly after sharing her statement: "So many women told me their devastating stories of being raped, in graphic detail. It was heartbreaking. My whole body shook with constant adrenaline rushes and my heart beat wildly every time I opened a new message, not knowing what poison it might contain." (Grimm, 2016) Why is it, then, that Swans is granted so much visibility regardless? Even today, in 2021, nearly exactly 5 years after the accusation, women like Lydia Lunch remain obscure while Gira gravitates further and further into the mainstream?
I think Kim Gordon said it best. “Every woman knows what I'm talking about when I say girls grow up with a desire to please, to cede their power to other people. . . everyone knows about the sometimes aggressive and manipulative ways men often exert power in the world, and how by using the word empowered to describe women, men are simply maintaining their own power and control.”
And to close, in Lydia Lunch's own words:
“I knew that my trauma, no matter what it was, was not unique. I knew that pain was the universal driving force of so many people—I knew that only in the details was it specific, and I just found it urgent to cut right to the chase and get right to the point.”
“They feared Me
I feared Nothing.”