Artists // Editrix

from Greg Saunier (Deerhoof):

Basically here is a record it is impossible not to like. Editrix II: Editrix Goes To Hell is even a record that's impossible not to buy, because you will, while liking it, recognize its vast difference from the pop music written by rich people, and you'll want to give it money.

But then that begs the question -- what exactly is “pop music” and why is it actually Editrix? Clearly this is no “worship” record. Do not expect calcified recreations of pre-existing bands, even the ones Editrix loves. But if pop is anything to do with melody, well, prepare yourself to be singing along by the second line of each track. If it's defined by rhythm, warn your head not to get caught napping because it will shortly be banging. And if for you pop equals a full-on full-frequency sonic sickness, this one grabs your ears by the ear lapels and never lets go.

Why? Perhaps because Wendy Eisenberg is a genius. This we already knew from their solo work, intricate and delicate as an unexpectedly happened-upon wildflower. How then to emotionally, intellectuality, spiritually process the musical oxymoron that is Editrix? I don't simply refer to the clash of a sick power trio (Steve Cameron on bass, Josh Daniel on drums, Wendy on guitar) grinding against a vocal so exquisitely vulnerable that it intentionally destabilizes itself by starting melodies on the weaker "mi" instead of the stronger "do," never on the downbeat for help, nary a drop off reverb, and always with two Wendys singing at once to make any interpretive microdiscrepancies nakedly audible.

No, I mean a profound philosophical nonbinary, a music alienated from itself and all the more charming for being so...It is a rough-hewn yin-yang of good and evil that captures our late stage capitalist zeitgeist as blockbusteringly as Star Wars captured the good-obliterates-evil-as-long-as-we-spend-enough-money blissful ignorance of the pre-Reagan years…It is Tim Green’s cover art, featuring “Junebug” the dog greeting you at the suburban gates of Hell.

Editrix is as if you took music that is borderline classical in its crystalline perfection and obsessive attention to detail, and then played it through Kurt Cobain's Rat pedal, with not a shred of piety or decorum. From the first slide guitar notes of the opening title track, this is doom-laden nihilism lovingly decorated in heart stickers. It is caring, pretending not to care, resisting the emotive signals so abused in mainstream, which is what tells you that it really does care. It is sweet and sour and spicy and salty and bitter and umami, and cooked using only homegrown local ingredients. It is the synthesis of the dialectic and the clarion call of the proletarian revolution.

It is also Editrix's second album, its second series of little enlightenments. This is haiku rock, its minimal lyrics compressing novels into a few syllables. It sounds like it came to their heads like bolt of lightning. Indeed, Editrix II was and recorded and mixed in just two days, by Justin Pizzoferato at Sonelab in Easthampton, Massachusetts, during which this trio of veterans of DIY scenes of the Northeast, who met each other at shows in the 2010s, would “sit quietly and grunt out music together and then make jokes over tacos,” according to Wendy.

Of course this humble image belies their sophisticated and unorthodox approach. Upon close inspection this music is really hard to play. Take “Time Can’t Be Redeemed,” in which Steve introduces a bass line only to have Josh and Wendy instantly declare war on it. Marvel at their sense of rhythm on a song like “Cowboy,” in which two out of three band members may feel the time in one way, but the third simply does not, each musical layer interpenetrating and uneasily coexisting with the other. Behind the scenes, this record was the product of months of collaborative writing, half before and half during the pandemic.

While it’s tempting to say that their most political material on the record is in response to the pandemic, they seem to know that its disastrous mishandling by forces in power really revealed deeper structural evils that were always present, now made obvious. For all its sonic sizzle and ostensible humor, Editrix II: Editrix Goes To Hell is very personal in the lyrics department, cohering around the different ways we leave each other, either to abandon the other or sometimes to protect ourselves and our world. Says Wendy, “the whole record is a big crisis of care - who do I care about ? Why do I care? Is caring about this thing or that thing bad or good? If I care, will I be abandoned by the thing I care about?”

“One Truck Gone” takes an unflinching look at disposability, whether that refers to ever-increasing avalanches of consumer waste, or sectors of the human population no longer deemed useful by the capitalist machine. “Heiroglyphics” seems to suggest that “Hell” is less about being surrounded by toxic people than about being eaten alive by one’s own inner critic when one is trying to create in forced solitude.

Because this record is actually very enjoyable, it also asks deep questions about whether a musical group is really a commodity, or becomes one when their play count hits some magic number. What does it mean for a band (its songs, its image) to be consumed easily? Is music is a privilege or a human right? And that ain’t just some music journalistic mumbo jumbo either, these are actual day-to-day burning questions on the minds of younger music makers and fans, and part of the reason Editrix II slams so hard is that you can hear that tension crackling out of the speakers in real time.