The Lexington, 15 October 2009
Cobra Killer are two women in total control. Annika Trost and Gina V. D’Orio play industrial, electro-hardcore and their live shows resembles a dose of Weimar cabaret mixed with debauched digital chaos. Their music has been quite aptly described as Dreck Elecktro- ‘dirt electro’. It’s 21st century expressionist-feminist performance for an audience with a penchant for an adrenalin rush. I never tire of watching this German duo, even though neither their stage show nor their repertoire has changed much in the seven years since I first saw them. This latest London gig is to promote a new album, Uppers and Downers; there is no sign of them reining it in.
They strut on stage to a Teutonic soundtrack, wearing long leather coast and waving flags. They stress their German pride with heavily accentuated banter in between tracks. These girls have a stage presence that isn’t easily matched; Trost is imposing in an Amazonian way, while D’Orio looks like Little Red Riding Hood gone bad. Together, they are mesmerising.
Their performance is very physical, involving a lot stomping around, dancing and throwing themselves onto the floor, all with an uncoordinated, wild abandon which frequently results in real injuries. Then, there are the rituals of pouring bottles of red wine over themselves, hula hooping and scaffold-pole fencing, no less. They are full of curious juxtapositions- both girls wear sleazy hooker platforms heels, yet don’t come across as lascivious. Their dressed are tatty, tight and often very short, but somehow you never feel the sex and grind is ‘in your face’.
The show is funny, in contrast to the music which is intense, sparse and abrasive and cuts right through to the bone. That becomes understandable when you learn that both girls are Dreck Elektro royalty. Before Cobra Killer, Trost and D’Orio were members of different bands on Alec Empire’s Digital Hardcore label- Trost in EC8OR and D’Orio in Shizuo. The label flourished in the ’90s and today many of its acts (for example Nic Endo and Hanin Elias, from Empire’s Atari Teenage Riot) continue to work on projects affiliated to the electro/hardcore scene. While the US and UK had the political but (in contrast) relatively polite indie/grunge Riot Grrrl scene, Germany had something much wilder and harder. Cobra Killer remain an unequivocal conduit to this musically uncompromising scene, one that continues to crawl around the underbelly of electro.
To get a feel of the duo’s tastes, check out Cobra Killer radio on www.last.fm.com. The new album Uppers and Downers, with guest appearance from Jon Spencer, Thurston Moore, J.Mascis and Philip Virus, is now out on the Monika Enterprise label.