By Bonner Sale
In the last decades artists have been shedding the academic vessels of expression and creating new pedestals for discussion. SSION does just that a 6 part rock/performance troupe from Kansas city Missouri that consisted of two singers dressing in contrasting gender outfits a drummer, key board player, and synchronized asexual dancers. With a uniform face tattoo for the group and video projections of sexual acts and curse words, SSION creates a sexually perverse identity that lies in between performance art and Glam rock.
Its hard to make a argument that art hasn’t mutated with rock's blood and that rock music has become an art form from it, beginning with a NY based band titled Kiss where all four members came on stage wearing a unifying identity taken from Glam and Mythology. This created an identity that supported the music as well as the mythic quality that surrounded the actual musicians/ artists themselves. More recently, rock acts have been based solely on identity of sound. The Locust for example put out screeching unworldly albums that are relatively 11 minutes long but act as an assault of napalm to the face, making the album completely deplorable and uncompromising all at once.
The identity aspect of music and art is tricky at best. Sometimes it can be perceived to function as a gimmick or a device used to undermine what it is representing. What culture does Kiss or SSION represent or what culture does Nikki Lee represent but not undermine. That being said, in rock, identity is less dependent on the act being real.
SSION is clearly parading the same path that Kiss had laid before them but to another degree of identity: opposed to pulling from mythos, it pulls from sexuality and identity with a full stage and beat and energy to prove the provocative insights that it makes on art society. Entertainment is a tricky road lain for this vessel of music/art, where in an art scene viewers are easily subjected to more explorative and self indulgent acts which makes performance art so good or so bad, whereas rock culture has an entertainment property which is hard to walk away from as a touring band trying to sell records and t-shirts.
But SSION clearly does not have to worry about either its completely engaging upon first approach like a rock act, because it has so many layers to read that this leads to a second and third viewing. From changing costumes to "Maggot Brain" influenced guitar solos played by lead singers. It was such an entertaining set it was hard to see the identities as guises or references, but after having time to be able to look back on it, SSION crossed a lot of boundaries between art and rock.