The Wolves Amongst the Flower, the new EP from noise/post-punk group Bataille, channels the philosophy of Georges Bataille, the French intellectual for whom the band is named. The writer, who was influenced by such figures as Nietzche, Hegel, and Marquis de Sade, is known today for his works on mysticism, eroticism, nihilism and transgression. On Wolves, these themes exist in the strictly nonconformist aesthetic that Bataille presents – eccentric, rebellious and just rude.
This is abrasive stuff, as one may expect, but it’s too bleak to be truly confrontational. Rather, it’s disconcerting. “How Innocent,” the EP’s first proper track, may be the most accessible song here, but that’s not saying much — it starts from a typical noise rock/hardcore structure, but then extrapolates with layers of harsh noise. The vocals, like on much of the record, are incomprehensible, and vocalist John Hannah regurgitates them in a detached, sardonic manner. “Grave of Vampires” squeals out of the gate in harsh “anti-punk” fashion (as Bataille themselves describe their sound), before the band interjects with some odd feedback in the foreground. It is — and I mean this in the best way possible — vomit-inducing. Music that produces such visceral reactions in the listener should be celebrated. The 7-minute noise track which closes the record, “I Live Because I Am Free to Die,” exemplifies the concept of limit-experience, which Michel Foucault described as “the point of life which lies as close as possible to the impossibility of living, which lies at the limit or the extreme.” It is, as Bataille suggested, the experience from which the subject can tear away from itself, and this is clear in the masochistic art on display here. Indeed, the cover of the Wolves cassette features two images, both of a young woman: in the first, it appears as if she has been stabbed (and is missing a leg, to boot), and in the second, it now appears as if she did the stabbing herself – or is, at the very least, pulling the knife out.
It should be noted that the band recently underwent a name shortening, from Georges Bataille Battle Cry to simply Bataille. Not being overly familiar with Mr. Bataille’s works, I can only assume that the battle cry of which the band speaks is tied to their slogan of “Loudly ring out revolt and despair.” Even now, the band explains their aesthetic as the following: “This is not punk rock. This is theology.” Pretentious? Perhaps. But only if you’re not on their wavelength. On Wolves, Bataille’s house is in disarray, and they’ve subjected to us to their madness and self-loathing.
Bataille will perform on Monday, August 24 at the Earl when they open for GG King, Ballroom and Vincas. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $8.