Kristin Erickson, aka Kevin Blechdom, is best known for her collaboration with Blevin Kelley in the now defunct duo Blectum From Blechdom. Erickson changed her name to Kevin as it rhymed with Blevin, and thereby made a statement about the extraordinary, almost telepathic synergy they achieved through their loose and wayward electronica. It was also a part of an inevitably vain attempt to conceal the pair's gender. Blectum From Blechdom split in what appear to have been fraught circumstances -- even intensive group therapy couldn't save the working partnership. Kevin has subsequently moved to Berlin and recorded a number of EPs. Bitches Without Britches is her first solo album.

Blechdom's work has always represented a riotous departure from what she regards as the tight, minimal and earnest tendencies of male-dominated electronica. Bitches by contrast fizzes with morbid with and abandon, spilling and squirting involuntarily like the bodily functions she so gleefully depicts in the album's accompanying cartoon booklet, tracking the giddy processes of her emotions, as she slips in and out of inverted commas, now sardonic, now deadly serious.

Blechdom achieves her effects by means of two laptop computers and a strap-on MIDI keyboard. With pointed facetiousness, she also plays the most 'anti-electronica' of instruments, the banjo. With its babble of interruptions, interference and hick acoustic and electronic voices talking over each other, the results sound like she's trying to create the most vivid and literal musical definition yet of the word 'haywire'.

In her own mind, Blechdom considers Bitches Without Britches a pop album, but it's not pop as anyone knows in this galaxy. "Use Your Heart As A Telephone" and "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh" are a thrilling, if slightly traumatic, introduction to her soundworld, being love songs that are not so much deconstructed as ripped to shreds. Fragmented and digressive, full of banal emotions and pleas, the latter clearly bristles with sarcasm, yet it's simultaneously born out of an unspoken despair that 'true love' is such a remote fictional concept.

Easier to get a handle on, or so it seems, is the brilliant, infinitely ponderable "Binaca", with its gruelling yet deceptively straightforward couplets: "Ever since I got my earplugs/I don't have to wash my ears no more/Ever since I got my boob job/I don't have to write good songs no more/Ever since I got my tubes tied/I don't have to have abortions no more". Escalating from the convenient to the expedient to the tragic, these 'advances' leave Blechdom pyrrhically "free! Free from hygienic responsibility".

At times you suspect that her reluctance to dwell in any musical/lyrical place for any length of time, her flippancy and flip-flopping represent a flighy from intensity, a mask for some deeper pain. Even when she covers Tina Turner's "Private Dancer", you get the impression it's a coded way of addressing some soulful subject matter, via the cipher of a well known pop song. But on "Why Am I" she sits still for a moment and opens a window on her innermost concerns. Once the emotional cat's out of the bag, the album takes on a new hue. Its most telling track, "I Done Usin' 'U's And Bees", is like opening the lid of neurological chaos within. Lyrically, it's a series of emotional snapshots rather than a coherent narrative, culminating in a suicide.

I'd caution the temptation to celebrate Blechdom's electronica as a signifier for the 'feminine'. That would be uncomfortably reminiscent of Harry Enfield's mock-public information film Women! Know Your Limits!, where an overload of information, evenly and tidily stored in the male head, sends the female head into a chaotic tizzy. Conversely, it would be wrong to dismiss this as deliberately incoherent electronic Riot Grrrrl pique. For those prepared to stick with Bitches and divining the method in its mad mess, the rewards come thick and fast.

-David Stubbs, Wire, July 2003

Kevin Blechdom