A member of the seminal Los Angeles punk rock band X, Exene Cervenka (who also goes under the name Cervenkova) brought a gritty, "live-in" feel to that band's songs of urban isolation and decay. During the same period she began producing poetry in the written form as well, including collaborations with Lydia Lunch, another chronicler of life on the wrong side of the tracks. After X's dissolution, Cervenka recorded a pair of solo albums and then a live spoken word performance with Lunch, RUDE HIEROGLYPHICS. For SURFACE TO AIR SERPENTS, Cervenka was back on her own, but retaining some of Lunch's influence.
A 22-track record, SURFACEà features Cervenka's poetry--which at times veers uncomfortably (albeit intentionally) into the high school territory--and a variety of ambient musical backings. Cervenka's delivery is dry and occasionally bitter, though not without it's own version of black humor. The backing features everything from nearly full-on rock music (which sounds profoundly odd when accompanied by Cervenka's speaking voice) to weird backwards tape masking and choppy cut-ups in the style of William Burroughs. This is not the first Cervenka record one should purchase, but it is an interesting side note to an interesting woman.