Unpopular Advent 2018 – Day 10

Chaos Chaos – Chaos Chaos

Let’s get this straight from the start: I find it close to impossible to be objective about Chaos Chaos, for Chaos Chaos have emerged from the chrysalis of (pre)teen sensations Smoosh whose debut piece of 7” vinyl was released on my little Unpopular label far too many years ago to bear thinking about. Ditto that cover piece in Plan B that sparked our interest and I’m sure that Jerry will appreciate the Dexy’s nod to start this piece. Our jigsaw puzzles may have slightly different pieces but they all fit, right? Right.

Oddly then (or not), the one area where I can be objective about Chaos Chaos is in saying that I have no idea where they are at or are coming from. This is a compliment, reflecting the fact that for some years now I have been delighted to find myself in that place where Contemporary Youth Culture(s) are now completely and utterly beyond the scope of, if not my understanding, certainly my interest. And whilst my day job ostensibly keeps me in touch with whatever The Young People are consuming in reality it merely serves to highlight the chasm that has emerged. Certainly though there is something of the importance of gender/identity politics at play in Chaos Chaos (heck, it’s implicit in their very name isn’t it?) and if this plays out most obviously in ‘Pink Politics’ it is also hinted at in the cover photograph which will forever put me in mind of Lee Miller’s iconic shot of young women in fire masks during WW2, and there can be few more valid feminist touchstones than Miller (frustratingly, they have since replaced that cover with a colour shot which, whilst it may be more fitting for the record is a disappointment to any photography nerd). As we said, our jigsaw puzzles may have slightly different pieces but they all fit, right? Right. Yet it strikes me from listening to ‘Chaos Chaos’ and from glimpsing snapshots of Asya and Chloe’s Instagram lives that it is entirely possible that they themselves are inhabiting the fringes of their own contemporary culture, that they are searching for those corners where they feel most comfortable. Looking for where they fit, at least in part and at least for a while. Such is the curse/pleasure of Youth, after all.

‘Berlin’ certainly captures this sense of longing for belonging and the tension of enforced separation from the emotional connections we make to place, time and (almost incidentally) to people. I have listened to ‘Berlin’ many times this year and each time I cannot decide if this is a song that yearns for a return to a city of recent personal memory or if it is rather a song that sets its nostalgic sights on a mythic, mediated place and time (a Berlin of perhaps Isherwood, Lou Reed, Iggy and Bowie or any number of artists inhabiting any particular past). Sonically it feels like the later, in that it is the song on the album that perhaps most obviously and explicitly references a 1980s demi-monde of clashing and crashing synths desperately seeking redemption. It is by turns anxious, exuberant, hesitant, frustrated and euphoric. It is four minutes of darkness and light, of past, present and future. Chaos, Chaos. There is too a notion of division/separation, and if my reading of this is coloured by my own recent consumption of ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ and ‘Berlin 84’ then so be it. Yet there is certainly something of the ‘New Gold Dream’ about this ‘Berlin’ and that, again, is a compliment. Remember, our jigsaw puzzles may have slightly different pieces but they all fit, right? Right.

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