Angel Guts: Red Classroom is the beginning of Xiu Xiu's descent from grayness into the deepest blackness endurable. It is the sound of Xiu Xiu's death.
This is a bold proposition, even for a band that has never so much pushed the envelope as pulled it (forcefully) away from the line other musicians are willing to toe. And now, in what is unquestionably their darkest hour, Xiu Xiu have lit the envelope on fire and are using it as a torch to light the path ahead.
Having spent the previous four years living in North Carolina, primary songwriter Jamie Stewart relocated to Los Angeles, moving blindly into a neighborhood whose notoriously dangerous reputation was unknown to him.
A park divided among four gangs, a lake routinely dragged for bodies, a building wherein two infant skeletons were recently uncovered -- the aura of his new home bleeds into every pore of the album, each lyric and note bearing traces of its essence: the terrible beauty, the despair, the violence, the ultra humanity, the uncertainty.
"I know to a degree I must have romanticized it," Stewart admits, "But when it's not safe to go out at night, what else can one?"
Romanticized is hardly the word anyone other than Stewart would use. Like its namesake, a Japanese erotic noir film, Angel Guts: Red Classroom is as radical as it is inventive. The subject matter -- racialized sex, double suicide, double penetration, criminality, fear of physical harm -- is unsuitable for the faint of heart. But when the heart has stopped beating, only the soul remains to carry on. And here, Stewart transcribes his without boundaries.
Metallic Silver Vinyl from Polyvinyl Record Company.