Members of freejazzcore performance art duo Penis Hickey describe themselves as an “improvisatory endurance piece about masculinity and violence,” in which the band plays their instruments as hard as possible until they collapse from exhaustion.
A collaboration of two UCSD grad students, Penis Hickey features drummer Leah Bowden and bassist Clint McCallum (of gender-bending tuba/vox dragcore noise duo Aquapuke), imploring passages of minimalist ambience that occasionally dwindle into silence framed by cathartic free-jazz convulsions, metallic noodlings, screeching, sanatorium falsetto wails, slam rants, OCD inner monologues, and impromptu theatrical lyricism revolving around the eponymous refrain: “I am my typical self/ excited, scared, yeah...”
“The piece is violent not only because of the aggressive sound,” their Facebook bio continues, “but also the ways that the band sets up. One never knows when and from where Penis Hickey might stage an ambush.”
Like, say, cloaked in garbage bags in the men’s room at Whistle Stop for experimental/dance/punk monthly Makeout Weird’s two-year anniversary last July.
“As middle-class white people deprived of a more violent social milieu, we feel it is important to get in touch with our more primitive, uncivilized roots and act out against the musical establishment,” the bio concludes.
It is in this light that one makes sense of their debut album, My Typical Self (penishickey.bandcamp.com), insofar as it is possible.
It’s an anarchic steel-toe to your earballs. It’s the asymmetrical X carved into your heart. It’s weird as all hell and sort of offensive, and with the right set of cochlea you can picture a fucked-up Jim Henson cast unleashing the entire 38-minute assault.
Penis Hickey is the bruise that betrays late-night transgressions — a vascular badge of what has come and gone, standing erect and nervously poised for whatever comes next.
Penis Hickey will get it on with Rat Jam and Creative Conspiracy on Sunday, November 11, at Ché Café.