Ki Di Me Mother Is b/w Islamatic 7" (Read, 1981)''
Funny how time shifts people's definitions of things. Or is it that once people get a stake in something they furiously fight to claim what they think is theirs? Way back in 1981, Ki Di Me's only record got filed away as post-punk or, in the US, punk (logic being that anything that wasn't on commercial radio and that sounded "weird" was punk). Nowadays, if you do a few searches on this record, it gets claimed as minimal, synth, minimal synth, darkwave, post-punk, and art punk (while we are at it lets add industrial and ambient). Why?
Yeah, sure, it is minimalistic. It has a synth. It is dark and "new wave." It is post punk. And it sounds like art students had a hand in this. But why the genre ghettos? Sure, I understand the need of naming things. At its worse these genres are necessary if you want to know the ethnicity of the players or at least that is the logic behind R&B and rock and roll (still the modern day equivalent of race (read Black) record and pop (read White) record). At their best, the categories make it easier for the reader to tell the difference between Mozart and the Ramones. Looking at it through the lens of commerce, it is much easier to sell something you can name. The librarian will tell us that if you want to catalog something you need to classify it. And so it goes.
Before I get accused of being some kind of moral relativist or even a hypocrite, let me admit that I do see some necessity in naming these things and I do some naming myself. I do it in my job. I do it with my record label. Hell, I've done it in these pages. Sometimes I do it because I am lazy and it is easier to write "art punk" than to come up with something creative to describe a sound. So I am not consistent. I also don't see the need to create a zillion different subgenres in order to describe something.
"Hey Soriano, what about the fucking record?" Uh, it's art punk, for sure, but it has some minimalist synth and darkwave undertones. It would fit nicely in someone's post punk collection, too.
That and it is a pretty chilling (in a comic book way) and entertaining look at family and the world. JoJo Planteen, formerly of the great one-off Inflatable Boy Clams, is the perfect lead voice for Mother Is. Her voice goes elastic from little brat to pissed off seductress, doing Kathleen Hanna ten years before Kathleen Hanna. The drone that backs her fits into one of the sounds coming out of San Francisco at the time. The music for Islamatic is in the same vein as Mother Is, but with more of a pulse and atmospheric. This time the vocals are male (Peter Worrall and Alan Brown) and the subject is terrorism. The end result is corny as hell but it still sounds good. Again, if you were to play this for me with me knowing nothing about it, I would peg it as early 80s San Francisco. It has that sound. That being the case, let's just call this Friscowave and end the argument about labels.