Bonnie Baxter – Ask Me How Satan Started

To be released on cassette and digitally on 11/16/18. C36 – pink tape with black imprints. Pro-dubbed at NAC. 2-sided 3-panel J-Card with artwork from HausMo Max.

Brooklyn-based producer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Bonnie Baxter makes her solo debut on Hausu Mountain with Ask Me How Satan Started, a fierce live program of distorted percussion patterns, unholy vocals, and peals of harsh abstract texture. The album follows the 2017 release of No Self Helps (HAUSMO61) by Kill Alters, her band with Nicos Kennedy and Hisham Bharoocha (of Black Dice, Lightning Bolt, Boredoms). Within the Kill Alters trio, Baxter’s shapeshifting vocals and dense electronic programming intersect with thundering drum kit performances and patches of wailing static intensity to create a strain of “noise” “rock” possessed of fierce emotional weight to match the overwhelming sonics. On her own, as Baxter compresses her practice down to a small rig of Korg Electribe drum machines, an iPad, and her voice, she maintains the ferocity and body-animating rhythmic sensibilities of her collaborative work while pushing her live-recorded compositions to towering climaxes of ego-erasing noise and vocal catharsis. As her machines pound out their loping lattices of beats and scrapes, Baxter pumps each individual element and the mix as a whole through layers of clipping distortion in which disparate elements seem to consume each other and claw for their own space in the spotlight. Her stuttering recursive percussion patterns recall the warp-speed grids of juke and footwork and the blown out industrial workouts of Container and Pharmakon, along with the omnivorous production sensibilities of hip-hop luminaries like J Dilla and Shabazz Palaces. As Baxter’s vocal performances spread into swathes of garbled chatter or loop as momentary cut-and-pasted samples, peppered with screams and hysteric pronouncements like “I’ll punch you in the dick,” Ask Me How Satan Started moves beyond the realm of beat-focused production into some hybridized vision of solo performance with elements of pop music, collage, and noise swirled together and left out to dry on the pavement. In step with her investigation into the recordings of her own family and personal history that appear throughout the Kill Alters catalog (and surface weekly on Bandcamp in their Kill Alters archives series), Baxter’s solo work contains flashes of her own voice as a child: urging her mother, at one point, to “ask me how Satan started,” in a moment poised somewhere between Exorcist-style family horror and adorable chipmunk voiced curiosity. This dynamic provides a fitting lens for Bonnie Baxter’s entire practice, balanced between terror and glee, between the weight of human depravity and the sense of joy and fulfillment that stems from confronting the forces of evil in society and within oneself.