I’ve been listening to the superb new album Becoming Undone by Adult. and it shows once again what absolutely smashing chaps they are.
As usual with their releases (this is their 10th album since 1998), the cover image on the CD doesn’t show Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller. If they did appear on the cover it would be with faces obscured or just off the boundary (although there is usually an inner sleeve image in which we do see them).
The happy couple:
The music is the same as it always was: early 80-s electrodisco energised with elements of more modern techno but not bothered at all about fitting in to any particular subsect of “dance music”. Always Nicola shouts the lyrics in a hyper-intense Siouxsie Sioux style, sometimes with a stuttering, overlaid pressured speech affectation. There is no temptation to ever do a slow ballad or “develop” in any way, thank God. The propulsive automated mechanical sound of, for example, “Our Bodies Weren’t Wrong” is reminiscent of earlier experimenters in making electronic music with an ironic eye on Madonna and the commercial pop sound that had come out of that world. Adult. are also involved in performance art/conceptualism and all that and so have more in common with Sonic/Ciccone Youth than any later movement as far as I can hear. The press release for the 2020 album Perception Is/As/Of Deception makes it all clear:
I expect the tour got cancelled like a lot of others after February 2020. I saw them in London at the Moth Club in 2017. The live experience of Adult. is not much more than seeing someone do karaoke to the records; I think Nicola may have made some comment about Trump but other than that there’s not that can be added without the aid of a big stage and lots of lighting effects and equipment, the sort of thing Kraftwerk can rely on when they do their big corporate entertainment gigs nowadays.
Adult. were mentioned as part of the “electroclash” fad circa 2000, and when I got their first album I saw it in the same set as the early works by Felix Da Housecat and Miss Kittin. I think the very first reference to them was in a general NME round-up article of “new things from America” at the time that The Strokes were a big thing in 2001. A world away.
As always, the lyrics are about human bodies and subjectivity blurring and becoming weightless in a posthuman experience, either the direct event of trauma or damage or the slow erosion from experience of negating energies and all that. “Violent Shakes” was on the 2018 album This Behavior but could as well be on this new one.
The picture at the top is of course Monument To The Unknown Artificial Limb (1930) by Heinrich Hoerle. That painting has always been associated with techno-futurism for me as it was on the cover of the edition of Brave New World I read in the 80s.