Kim Gordon’s debut No Home Record was born out of curiosity.
Almost four decades after starting Sonic Youth with just a drum machine, guitar and copy from advertisements that she would rework into lyrics, she mimics this same concept within her first release as a solo artist, and has come full circle in many senses. Returning back to her native California after living on the East Coast for many years, she firmly asserts herself as an independent force while questioning the commodification of home, underpinned with striking electronic influences.
The track “Air BnB” for example, takes listeners to the shores of Malibu where Gordon permeates through 47-inch televisions, daybeds and bubble wrap to declare “American idea / Copyright, copyrights / Air BnB! / Air BnB!/ Air BnB! / Gonna set me free,” blending snarling guitars with the same formula of using ads for inspiration, just reformatted to suit the modern age of digital indulgence.
What this also involves is the heavy incorporation of corrosive, experimental, computerised sounds that rumble throughout a number of different tracks. The first glimmer of this is within the opening track “Sketch Artist” which utilises industrial glitches to contrast with natural imagery and create a complex dichotomy. Gordon’s voice stays relatively monotone, as she sings, “Sketch artist / And the wind chimes strike and your dead stare strikes / And the wind chimes strikes and your dead stare / Like an old man in the day.”
The most dramatic shift in tone comes from the track “Don’t Play it Back” where Gordon’s vocals are distorted and penetrate through a wall of ambient sounds, her wry humour evident as she states, “Golden vanity / You can pee in the ocean / It’s free,” drawing back to this image of Californian consumerism.
Orbiting again around her questioning of home is “Get Yr Life Back Yoga” as her rasping voice declares, “Shopping off a cliff / You’re a breath on my eye / To lose a compass of teeth / Hash away at Twitter,” making for an enthralling scrutinization of the consumerism witnessed in a place she calls home. The discordant electronic influence of Yves Tumor producer Justin Raisen flickers throughout tracks like this, yet Gordon is assertive in her presence. No Home Record is heavy in its use of experimentation, yet it results in a vividly cutting and complex portrait of what it means to live in contemporary LA, and a superb introduction to the solo Kim Gordon.