Lydia Lunch: Video Hysterie 1978-2006: DVD

Aug 21, 2008

Sometimes it’s tough separating the artist from the art. Lydia Lunch’s media personality has always struck me as a very pompous pose, always trying to shock and offend in a way that’s more annoying and obvious than effective. I totally see the value in what she does as an artist and the influence she’s had on the underground, but put a microphone in front of her and ask her a question and too often she comes off as quasi-hipster elitist, pseudo-intellectually arrogant and, ultimately, boring. That said, I’ve always had a particularly soft spot for her musical endeavors. From Teenage Jesus And The Jerks onward, she has consistently shown no fear of making a helluva racket. This collection showcases her doing just that over the course of her twenty-eight-year musical career, with live and video footage of her work with the aforementioned Teenage Jesus, 8 Eyed Spy, Shotgun Wedding, Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard, Die Haut, and others. Sound and video quality varies from pro to kinda rough, the music often challenges the definition of the word in good ways, and the performances are always worthy of attention. Maybe I’m more musically oriented, but the tunes are often oddly unsettling in a way that her spoken word stuff isn’t. On the whole, I guess fans will think this is the bee’s knees, those with a passing interest in music off the beaten path will find much of interest here, and the rest of the population will keep marveling at Christina Aguilera’s spot-on Dee Snider impersonation none the wiser. –Jimmy Alvarado (MVD Visual,