Lydia Lunch b. 1959
Video Hysterie - 1978-2006 (2008)
This retrospective of Lydia Lunch's musical collaborations from 1978-2006 is an incredible representation of her approach to art. Hailed by the Boston Phoenix as "one of the 10 most influential performers of the 90's", no other artist of the 20th century has fought, forged, punched, and sculpted their own artistic vision in such a uniquely original way. Defying categorization, Lunch actively has conquered new territories, and has gained international recognition for the innovative quality of her work.

Robert Palmer from THE NEW YORK TIMES writes "Miss Lunch was always an effective vocal performer. But rock has grown complacent again -- even the underground rock that has borrowed so much from Miss Lunch's various bands over the years. Perhaps it's time for her to administer it a few more rude shocks." This DVD is sure to please anyone in search of change of pace, a stray from the norm.

Track Listing/Features:

# I Woke Up Screaming
# Freud in Flop
# Race Mixing
# Baby Doll
# Instra-mental

# Sorry for Behaving so Badly
# Innocence
# Boy Girl
# Motor Oil
# Shanty
# Swamp
# Run Through the Jungle

# Blood Is Just Memory Cisco Sunset

# Dead River

# Inverted Dream

# Doggin'

# Solo Mystico

# Summon

# Knives in My Drain

# Hot Tip

# Psychic Anthropology

# Violence is the Sport of God

# Empty Signals

Known for her violent, orgasmic spoken word performances and the twisted characters she portrays in R. Kern’s short films, Lydia Lunch is perhaps the scariest, and sexiest, artist you’re likely to be exposed to.

With the release of Video Hysterie: 1978-2006, Lunch lovingly subjects her fans to the aforementioned orgasmic rants set to a disarmingly raw punk soundtrack. The DVD explodes with a fast-paced montage of death and destruction via black-and-white stock footage of wars, suicides, executions, and explosions.

The band, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, chaotically paints over the footage with ear-splitting screams of the lead guitar, the rampant heavy thud of the drum beats, and, finally, you have Lunch screaming herself into a psychotic frenzy. You can’t understand what she’s saying in the song, but there wouldn’t be that amazing, soul-stirring punk rock edge if you could.

After the frenetic opening, the DVD jump cuts to blurry, home video quality footage (circa 1970s) of a Teenage Jesus and the Jerks concert. No frills here, just a single camera, single-angle setup that pans back-and-forth from the bassist to the drummer to Lunch.

With her monotone wailing, Lunch plows through songs such as “I Woke Up Screaming,” “Freud in Flop,” and “Race Mixing” as if she’s yelling a sermon to the audience, not caring in the slightest whether they like it not. Of course, she’s a hot punk rock chick, so they lap up her verbal abuse with their desperate applause.

It’s hard to tell if Lunch’s stop-motion guitar playing is intentional for dramatic effect, or if it’s due to lack of experience. Fortunately, the bassist, perfectly stoic except for his energetic manipulation of the chords, takes up the slack that Lunch, and even the drummer, leave hanging.

In the next segment, with the band 8-Eyed Spy, Lunch has relinquished her guitar playing duties to a dude in Hawaiian shirt who deftly abuses his Fender. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he occasionally drops his guitar to rock out on a saxophone.

Musically, 8-Eyed is far more energetic than Teenage Jesus…, yet it’s apparent that Lunch’s poetic droll is responsible for slowing the band down when it can definitely rock out. Both are appealing in their own right, so perhaps this conflicted emotion is what Lunch desired.

Lunch seems to have found her groove with the band Shotgun Wedding. With dull blue lighting that makes even the band member’s glamorous, sequined costumes seem dismal, and an experienced camera person, Lunch sways and moans to the deep lull of the bass and the intense pounding of the guitar. It is here where she establishes herself as the Jim Morrison of the gutter with her gothic, soulful droning of what is sure to be pure poetry set to music.

The only unfortunate aspect of this portion of the DVD is that only two songs are performed by Shotgun Wedding.

Lunch continues to come into her own with her morbid, existential tapestry of words coupled with the slow, creepy vibrations of an upright bass. “What if what you call ‘life’ is just a void? What if the void is just an inverted dream in which we’re all involved? What if we’re doomed to the empty hours of eternity?”

Under more dull blue lighting, with her sexy jet black hair and velvety outfit to match, Lunch looks like she’s on the set of a David Lynch film (think Blue Velvet or Lost Highway) moaning and wailing to a sleepy jazz background about “salons of blood and guts and exploited sickness.”

Lunch’s verbal expressions are often over-the-top, but her appeal lies in her lack of fear to say what she wants and feels (often intertwined with animalistic grunts), her raspy, enticing tonal inflections, and her ability to visibly be transported to another realm by her words.

What she has to say flirts with the grotesque, the absurd, the frightening, and the depressing, but Lunch makes it all socially acceptable with her thick eroticism and passion.

If you’re looking for a new experience, or if you’re a backslidden fan of Lunch, pick up Video Hysterie: 1978-2006 to satisfy or renew your lust for the weird and absurd. - by David L. Miller,