Beme Seed emerged in Boston in 1988 and descended on New York City in 1989. Often associated with Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth and Flaming Lips, they mixed heavy psychedelia with noise rock for the pre-grunge US and UK underground rock scene.
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Beme Seed singer Kathleen Lynch was "the Stripper," whose stage antics helped propel Butthole Surfers to infamy. In most ways, her band is on its own plane - the quartet opened an entire tour for the Surfers simply by showing up at gigs unannounced, setting up and playing. Lacking the minimal organization of even the Sun City Girls, Beme Seed captures unique psychic qualities on its three opaque and unsettling records.
For starters, [Their First LP] Beme Seed (1989) is one long, orgiastic tuneup, with lots of chanting and squealing over guitar feedback and erratic pulsing rumble. Lynch's band has the same paranormal quality as her dance act. The few snippets of sustained songs are simplistic and ceremonial-complete with speaking in tongues. Sounding more like a hazy memory than an actual recording of music, the album's unrelenting tension can be panic-inducing. Whether the band is coming or going, it leaves a bewildering impression.
Lights Unfold (1990) further explores the outsides of abstraction. Beme Seed grabs the equivalent of breakbeats from psychedelic and noise music in an attempt to build something new and inspiring. Pagan paeans like "Old New Song" begin in climax and reach for enlightenment from there. Hand-lettered lyrics show Lynch is a sha(wo)man with a mission: "Move your body like you move your mind/Celebrate life, it's on time."
Recorded in New York with Wharton Tiers, Purify (1992) takes a stab at regular-sounding songs, where you can feel the beat and guess the changes. Accordingly, Lynch's tranced-out moans and Michael Albin's endless fried guitar wailing have a calming effect on incantations like "Inner Life Is Calling." Encroaching '60s sensibilities aside, the rainbow dance "I'm So Glad That Love Is Travelling All Around the World" is a provocative spaced-out mix of Jefferson Airplane and the Banshees.
The band broke up soon after. With even the Buttholes having lost their love of insanity by 1992, underground rock became nice and safe, and the riddle of Beme Seed was paved over without ever really being solved.
Ian Christe - Trouser Press