Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Both Alan Vega's music and art have been essential forms of Lower East Side expression,  combining his love of the detritus of its gnarled streets with Rockabilly and the sounds of machinery. I remember his exhibition at O.K. Harris Gallery,  proprietor Ivan Karp allowing heaps of found objects, dirt, and electricity free reign in his pristine space. This was an amalgam of salvage, garbage and one man's street stories. Like his work with the provocative electronic duo Suicide and solo records, there was little or no attempt to smooth rough edges or foster commercial surrender. Even a single like "Dream Baby Dream" offered repetitive menace in Vega's nearly stuttered motivational "sprechgesang", meshing beautifully with Martin Rev's skeletal vintage drum machine and cheap keyboard synth. Their early performances were a kind of performance art punk,  recordings of which only hint at the commotion Vega caused. And let's not forget "Frankie Teardrop", possibly the most intense and harrowing track to wander the dark dirty corners of Alphabet City... ever! Vega will certainly be missed.

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