The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black was formed in 1990 in New York City by Kembra Pfahler and Samoa. Return of the Hero is the band's first new album in thirteen years and is their heaviest album to date.
TVHKB is known for their theatrical presentation and costuming, and toured
the U.S. extensively in the 90's. They have been compared to by Spin magazine to performance legends like The Plasmatics and Alice Cooper. Their music comes out of meat and potatoes rock and roll, but with this new album, they've reached beyond their initial punk rock leanings to a more ferocious metal sound. Music by Adam Cardone (bass player for the internationally know band "Toilet Boys") and lyrics by Kembra Pfahler. // from the 2008 Whitney Biennial:
Kembra Pfahler is the woman behind The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, a theatrical rock group that links a hideous monster aesthetic to a dark, hysterical feminine archetype. Named in honor of cult horror film heroine Karen Black, Pfahler’s band performs heavy-bottomed punk-metal songs amid elaborate hand-constructed sets where she engages an animalistic, fetishistic practice of acting out transgressive physical feats. Pfahler’s stage persona has been described as a dominant “lady devil” who relishes destroying notions of female beauty rooted in purity and innocence. Wearing a teased black bouffant wig with blacked-out teeth, black stiletto boots, and black underwear, her nude body painted blue, pink, or yellow, Pfahler heads a team of ladies appointed in similar campy glamour while male band members including her ex-husband, Samoa, maintain masculine rockabilly stylings. Pfahler and Samoa formed The Voluptuous Horror in 1990 after ten years of making Super 8 horror films and visual and performance art that they felt would benefit from a musical soundtrack, looking to Viennese Actionists Hermann Nitsch, Otto Mühl, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler as original influences. Rebelling against a degraded, polluted world, Pfahler developed an “anti-naturalism” platform on which to promote VHOKB reflecting their desire to reveal the attraction of repulsion.
The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black fashion their props and sets from low-tech, readily accessible materials under the rubric of Pfahler’s theory of Availablism, creating structural items and costumes such as ladybug and flower head uniforms as visual accompaniments to their songs. For Chopsley (1996), an oversize animal trap controlled by a female band member snaps open and shut on Pfahler as she sings about a “rabid bikini model.” In a 2006 performance at New York’s Deitch Projects, The Sound of Magic, band members danced with Mylar-covered boards shaped like giant razor blades and shark heads before a backdrop of starkly striped paintings.
* Kembra Pfahler has created a pallet of words, ideas and sounds that no one has heard before. The human voice has limitless possibilities; this recording heralds these aspects with Kembra’s eruptive élan vital. The honesty in her performance is singular.
* Magal's drumming mixes pure carnal power with polyrhythmic detailed phrasing that derails what has become known as modern rock percussion. The pedigree of his drumming is that of a lone sentinel in the face of the enemy arousal.
* A master of tone, memorable solos,and a true understanding of the majesty and range of an electric guitar is Dave Weston. His audible presence reaches monolithic intensities that reach the soul.
* Adam Cardone’s deep love for rock and roll is legendary in the musicological precincts that count. The theatrical foundations of his song writing rooted in classical dramatic forms, couples with hard rock bass virtuosity.
“This music is a religion : and I take it very seriously.” Adam Cardone
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