Review Summary: Cross-eyed architects..
Led by boisterous engineer of disarray Jenny Hoyston, Oakland punkers Erase Errata and their debut Other Animals
helped the West Coast underground usher in the tumult of Y2K on a snapped string and punctured snare. The frantic all-female act’s first effort instantly distinguished them, making them a primo addition to the already-loaded roster of Troubleman Unlimited Records, then-home to heavies like Pussycat Trash, Boris and Unwound.
By the time Erase Errata started playing around San Francisco and laying down the first demos for Other Animals
, Hoyston had already become a mainstay on the somewhat resurging no-wave scene, assembling or hopping onto all-female punk acts like Subtonix, day twenty-eight and California Lightening. Her politics of gender egalitarianism coupled with a liberated take on sex and nudity (California Lightening’s album art had been censored for displaying the band naked.) had already made a queer iconoclast of her. Erase Errata was to become her most enduring musical statement.
Brevity and focus are the strongholds of Other Animals
. A compressed charge of 2-minute modern no-wave at a time is all the album asks of the listener. And they deliver it with gusto. “Walk Don’t Fly,” “Fault List” and “Dexterity is #2” all swirl in a beautiful mess of sharp rhythm and tinny shredding. Elsewhere on “Marathon” and “French Canadia” the band try their hand at indie punk and drunken synths respectively. All of it coalesces into the sort of topsy-turvy entropy that mad-eyed, New York anti-disco acts were swarming in in the 80’s.
Erase Errata’s overall tropes are easy enough to see. Beefheart’s havoc penchant, Gang of Four’s stiff-legged funk and Bikini Kill’s savage sensitivity all get a nod here. It all comes together in grand fashion. Other Animals
is as helter-skelter-ish as it is relentless as it is smart. The band slap together a well-coordinated mess, and every honed, angular guitar lick and spring-loaded bass line here are as much an adhesive force as they are deconstructive.
That wobbly-legged, anxious swing quickly earned them fans from their niche’s veterans. During the band’s heyday, Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon and fellow controlled chaos-wielders The Ex had all name-checked Erase Errata as promising newcomers and budding peers.
Their live shows tended to be similarly disordered with improvisation. Early noughties indie music mags would rave about the one-of-a-kind nature of their sets, with every show becoming an enclosed, irreplicable capsule, an exercise in wild ephemera.
Though Erase Errata would make it through most of the 2000’s, their output and touring would wind down considerably as the decade turned. Their most recent, Lost Weekend
came out in 2015, after a nine year absence and to little fanfare in a newly attention-depleted era. Hoyston has been actively involved in both music and visual arts, and her overarching legacy is one that will last. Still what Other Animals
stands for is as singular and inimitable as the band’s shows – songs so berserk and wonky that their shape their own purity.