An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, Durrr @ The End, London
Vile Imbeciles, Brixton Windmill, London

An experiment in drop-dead venom

In times when everything seems sewn up, we need someone to tear it apart. In an age of smoothly sellable corporate indie, we need someone to take a knife to the façade. At the start of 2009, the band stepping up to that challenge is An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.

Quite correctly one of the coolest and most talked-about new bands in London right now, this all-girl trio (their mouthful of a name is taken from an 18th-century painting by Joseph Wright of Derby) rip rock'n'roll back to its building blocks and start again from Ground Zero.

A photogenic jumble of mesh, chintz, leopard and Lycra, with perfect Purdey-from-New-Avengers fringes, Russ Meyer-esque curves and permanently unsmiling lipgloss, C-Bird, D-Bird and X-Bird swap instruments after almost every song, like Bowie and his band during the Lodger sessions – not to show off their versatile musicianship, but, if anything, to prove that you don't need musicianship to create a raw, sexy rock'n'roll racket.

Nevertheless, certain primary roles emerge. Lined up side-by-side, X-Bird is chiefly the stand-up drummer (stand-up drummers are always cooler), pummelling seven shades of hell out of a pair of floor toms; D-Bird is mostly the guitarist, and C-Bird is mainly on bass, as well as owning the band's most powerful singing voice, in a New York tough-girl, Patti Smith-meets-Karen O style.

Their ultra-primitive, ultra-minimal sound recalls Siouxsie and Budgie circa the first Creatures album; the Cramps, of Smell of Female or Off the Bone; We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It; the Birthday Party and early Bow Wow Wow ... and it grabs you by the guts.

As well as their own songs, often barely a minute long (at 2:20, "Saints Don't Cry" is a comparative epic), Air Pump's repertoire includes a cover of Sonic Youth's classic "100%" which dispenses with the original chords in much the same way that the Slits reinvented "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", D-Bird snarling "I've been around the world a million times ... and all you men are slime" with drop-dead venom.

One mouthy git at the back of the club sarcastically applauds AEOABITAP (even their abbreviated form is unwieldy) for using the same drumbeat on successive songs, then snidely requests a C-chord. But he's completely missing the point of these fierce rock'n'roll Fauvists.

Also engaged in the deconstruction/ reconstruction of alternative rock – but an altogether looser proposition – are Vile Imbeciles. Formed by Andy Huxley, the stick-thin pretty boy with the wind-battered raven hair who used to play guitar with the mighty Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (and has made an effortless transition to dashing frontman), Vile Imbeciles describe themselves as "death jazz", which is as decent a stab as any at pinning down their gleefully free-form freakouts.

At times, they remind me of the Make-Up (the testifying, funk-informed hardcore radicals formed by Nation of Ulysses' Ian Svenonius). There are even moments, for example on "Bad Ideas", when the Brighton quartet sound like someone trying to recreate hip hop by borrowing a garage rock band's instruments, rather than a rock band per se. At which point, it suddenly makes sense that they have Sly Stone as one of their top friends on MySpace.

These shows may only be two small victories in a long war, and there are many months to go, but, so far, 2009 feels like Scouting For Girls and the Hoosiers never happened.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine