Blonde Redhead Aim To Express The Inexpressible

Art-rock trio marked by noisy guitar, throbbing rhythms, voluntary convulsions.

WASHINGTON -- Singer Kazu Makino of the art-rock trio Blonde

Redhead had removed her guitar to make way for her voluntary convulsions.

Screech-singing the lyrics of "In Expression of the Inexpressible," she faced

guitarist and vocalist Amedeo Pace, her small frame jerking in quick, seizure-

like motions. Amedeo and his twin brother, Simone, braced her vocals with

guitar-and-drum droning and grooving.

But there was melody in the mayhem, sense about the chaos.

It was the set-closer of Blonde Redhead's appearance at the Black Cat last

Friday, and there couldn't have been a more appropriate finale.

The phrase "In Expression of the Inexpressible" -- which is also the title of the

trio's upcoming album (slated for a September release on Touch and Go

Records) -- perfectly captures the beyond-description quality of Redhead's

erratic, edgy performance style.

"I don't really know how it works between us," Makino, 29, said after the show.

"I'd rather be with them than other people. I think we're really good


Audience members seemed to agree. "For a band that I've heard a lot about but

never seen, it's probably one of the best shows I've ever seen," said

Jacob McMurray, 25.

With a sound that at times recalls Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead work within a

temperamental landscape of noisy guitar feedback and riffs, throbbing

rhythms and cunning melodies. Makino and Amedeo, whose high vocals fall

within close range of each other, tend to split up lead vocals from song to song.

"We try not to mind anyone else's business," Makino said. "Your part is your


Formed after Makino and Amedeo met in a restaurant in New York in 1990,

Blonde Redhead are an international alliance -- Makino is Japanese, while the

Pace brothers are Italian. Deriving its name from a song by DNA, a band from

New York's early '80s underground no-wave scene, the group was originally a

foursome until bassist Maki Takahashi departed in 1996 -- a personnel

change caused by "relationship things," as Makino put it. Though the remaining

members brought in a guest bassist for their last album, 1997's Fake Can Be

Just as Good, the minimalists have proceeded officially as a trio since

Takahashi's departure.

"There's more space; there's much more space," Makino said of In

Expression of the Inexpressible, making horizontal motions with her hands

as though she were stretching out a large rubber band. "We feel pretty good

about it. I think we were always very melodic, but now we're more into doing


Sitting on a dressing-room couch in the Black Cat's backstage area, Makino

spoke slowly and softly in careful English that bore little relationship to her

fragmented lyrics. "I write in English, that's probably why there's some limit

to my lyrics," she said.

As the singer spoke, friends drifted in and out to say goodnight and tell her

they enjoyed the show -- but you didn't have to be a pal to share that

sentiment, as many fans made clear. Matthew Green, 22, was so impressed by

Blonde Redhead's live presentation that he feared future letdown. "I'm reluctant

to buy the record because I'm afraid it won't compare," he said.

Blonde Redhead are playing only a few dates before the release of In

Expression of the Inexpressible. "We're kind-of holding back right now,"

Makino said. "We want us to be excited when it comes out. If we play too much,

we would be bored by then. But we'll tour pretty hard once it's out."