Black hair, severely cut, red lips, cleopatra eyes, lace-up, beat-up fetish boots. Is it Betty Page? Nope. Diamanda Galas? Nooo-ooo. Wonder Woman? That’s more like it.
You may already know Hanin as one part of the notorious super-electro-hero shit disturbers of the nineties: Atari Teenage Riot. Now she’s back as a solo act, with a full agenda tucked into her magnificent underpants.
I’m allowed to talk about Hanin’s undies, because Hanin, like many of her contemporaries, is not afraid of showing them off. On this night at Bastard they were a mysterious beigy-flesh colour with “No War” scrawled in black across the front. Teasing, pleasing, instructive. That’s Hanin’s style: it’s like child’s play, like the title of her new album: “No Games No Fun”.
Ironically, backstage before the Bastard show, Hanin was nervous as a schoolgirl, soft spoken and sweet. On stage, she blasted off like a bird, a plane, a superwoman, from the very first song, radiating power, direction, gathering momentum, seemingly unstoppable and untouchable. She sang, screamed, growled, whispered, rapped; rolled around on the floor alternating between minx-y, messiah and robot poses. All in perfect time with Phillip Virus’ fast-paced, apocalypse video footage and the breathlessly relentless beats.
Although emotionally it felt like Hanin’s presence was all that mattered onstage, there were two very diligent dudes behind her at computers the whole time, taking care of business, Chiffre and Phillip Virus. Chiffre is the composer and producer of most of the tracks on Hanin’s album, and invisible master of ceremonies on stage. Meanwhile Virus mixed his videos live and made a cameo guitar-solo on the song he co-wrote with Hanin and Merzbow, “Rockets Against Stones”.
Where sometimes video can be an unnecessary distraction from a performance, Virus had it perfectly integrated. Hanin’s image dodged and reproduced itself on screen like a daring clone, making her even larger than life than she already seemed. Collapsing buildings mirrored her own falling to the floor, jagged urban landscapes echoed her desperate voice and the dizzy camera could have been attached to her body as she battled her way through the 13-song set.
Dressed, aside from the underwear, in a utilitarian-cut DDR Postoffice dress, Hanin’s Japanese sex slave body moves reinforced the message behind her furious songs of the female and politics, including, “You Suck”, directed at an anonymous, arrogant, male musician superstar, and Girl Serial Killa – you can probably imagine your own lyrics. So I guess Hanin and her music inevitably belong to that feminist Riot Girl agenda which lingers on, fuck-all fashion, until that fine day when there is nothing left to say.
There are also similarities between Hanin and fellow one-time DHR labelmates, Cobra Killer. Same haircuts, fetish boots, naughty doll voices. Similar erotic, chaotic sounds. Rolling around on the floor. Hanin pours water over her head, C.K. pour wine. Girls in short skirts in a masculine world of computer off-beats and politics. But while Annika and Gina seem to be inspired from a messed-up bedroom 60s world of mod scooters, pirates and Russ Meyer movies, Hanin comes out of a dark, linear, pulsating cybernetic, Manga world of the 90s.
Anyway, there is nothing in Hanin’s politics (or Cobra Killer’s for that matter) which seems to disagree with playing with boys. Hanin is shown throughout her CD booklet proudly posing with all her male collaborators. Still, it’s her voice that carries the message, it’s her face that leaves its imprint on our minds as the archetypal woman blown-up on stage, larger than life. The music, the production, is creative intercourse, but only one person can give birth.
That’s why Hanin’s performance is full of blood warmth. She is Mother Nature. And like her, she wants to tease you out of complacency. Challenge you with the picturesque lines of her fetish boots just to remind you of the potential violence always lurking beneath the surface.