Music

Anthology from Sinead Gleeson and Kim Gordon challenges narratives of music as a male domain

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The book’s co-editor Sinead Gleeson writes about Wendy Carlos, attempting to decode the Moog maestra’s genius in the dark of a Dublin lockdown on her own keyboard, bending the pitch, playing with filters.

More oddly, the other co-editor, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, gives a voice – via a translator – to Yoshimi Yokota, who, in 1992, Gordon invited to drum for her band Free Kitten.

“Finally, through this book project, I’m able to ask Yoshimi things I’d always wondered about,” Gordon says, which seems late in the day, particularly when the pair discusses Gordon’s decision to use photographs of Yokota in bondage and in traditional Japanese dress on either side of a picture disc – photographs that Yokota had asked Gordon not to show anybody – “… that was very naughty of us,” Gordon concedes.

Other essays make amends for the past treatment of women, most poignantly that of Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson about Ella Fitzgerald. Back in 2000, Jefferson was set to write a book about Michael Jackson. It was abandoned when Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation, but Jefferson later analysed her denial about the rumours of his behaviour in her 2019 book, On Michael Jackson.

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In This Woman’s Work, she again examines feelings of complicity, this time towards Fitzgerald. As a pre-teen black girl preoccupied with appearance, the media focus on Fitzgerald’s weight and tendency to sweat made Jefferson “squeamish”.

Now, she concludes: “People should have begged for the elixir of your sweat. I do. I beg for it.”

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