Just ask LaTour: People are still having sex. In the clubs, though, 12-minute blissouts fade into each other, triggering lustful energy only in speaker-hugging pill-poppers eager to embrace something, someone, anyone. Out at Club Luxx, Larry Tee and the assorted wind-up dolls of the electroclash debacle have been doing somewhat better on the raunch-o-meter, understanding that the banging of industrial, mechanized sound actually bears some resemblance to, you know, actual banging. But still, it’s hard to fuck when your artful coif demands so much attention. That leaves the nerds, the outsiders, and the outcasts to do the dirtiest business, and so is born the new dance-friendly sexual revolution.
Topher Lafata will see you now. On two previous EPs as Gold Chains, he’s done his best to keep a straight face while reinventing naturally sloppy booty bass as methodical computer music. (Highlight song title: “I Treat Your Cootchie Like a Maze.”) From whence such virility? Must be the throbbing, unsubtle synths and the Aryan marching chants. Young Miss America is his first full-length try at, as the title track suggests, “transforming dancefloors into porno sets.” Indeed, the loving is just that rough. Like a laptop Damon Dash, he proposes on “Break or Be Broken” to “pour champagne on your tits/and watch them glisten in the sunshine/right next to your girlfriend’s.” In “The Game,” he teases, “You look so cute in those Gucci boots/Prada skirt wrapped around that Cali cooch.” Problem is, Gold Chains raps like he’s dangling his tongue out and wagging his head side to side. Worse, though irony apparently informs the project, it’s sonically M.I.A. And while his Casiotone reverberations can pack genuine punch, they’re obscured by the words, leaving them as a shtick. Sadly, no one’s let Lafata in on the joke.
Zeigenbock Kopf gets it, and even though he shouts out Gold Chains in the liner notes, it’s clear he’s never let the kid listen to his music. ‘Tis a shame, for Zeigenbock Kopf—actually a side project of San Francisco rocker John Dwyer (Pink & Brown)—has perfected the use of the improbable. The second ZK album, Nocturnal Submissions, sounds like Einstürzende Neubauten in a bathhouse. Dwyer recently told the Portland Mercury, “I started realizing that I wasn’t liking [my rock] shows because they were all dudes bro-ing down and shit, and no girls were getting in the mix. For that much man-on-man power, [I] had to step over into the German industrial theme, the most manly music of all time.” Indeed, Nocturnal is anything but baroque. “The bass is too loud/It hurts,” he complains on one track. “I remove my pants/Then my shirt.” Unlike Gold Chains, Dwyer realizes that no one’s cutting, so it’s best to dispense with the fantasy and get straight to the meta-party. “Get Your Dicks in the Mix” essentially repeats the vocoded title phrase ad nauseam as dirty snares march in the background. “To Do List” takes a wry look at the prime directive, spitting “fuck” over and over and over again. Dwyer’s sound is calculatedly dirty and undeniably motorized, a fantastic bashment so rife with libido it renders actual copulation a mere afterthought. After all, it could never be this good.
Dwyer might be gay-for-pay, but others are true pink. Take Drew Daniel, one-half of Matmos the electronic outfit as well as Matmos the couple. On his Soft Pink Truth project’s Do You Party?, Daniel harks back to the last great era of polysexuality: the disco age. “Gender Studies” splices up microsamples of vintage breaks that shimmer and boogie. It’s sultry, but in an oddball way that’s only resolved with the final, withered croon: “I wish I was a lady.” If Zeigenbeck Kopf aims for theme music for the leather scene, Soft Pink Truth prefers the gentility of Fire Island. Daniel is a deeply accomplished musician (It’s true! Ask Björk!), but he achieves less here with more provocative source material than he and his Matmos partner M.C. Schmidt did two years ago sampling medical instruments on A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure. While “Satie (Grey Corduroy Suit)” pulses and expands with Akufen-esque acuity and “Over You (No Love)” meshes the affectations of two-step with a splash of musique concrète for a sublime blend, it’s hardly pungent stuff. For all its intellectual promise—not to mention the fantastic cover art, in which a pair of Tom’s of Finland drag queens are walking color-matched sinewy man-dogs—Daniel never breaks free from his precious, distant paradigm. Not a drop of sweat in sight.
Way less technically skilled than Daniel, and therefore not beholden to those annoying old notions of art, the Gravy Train!!!! massive—Chunx, Funx, Drunx, and Hunx (the lone guy)—make up in secretions what they lack in vision. On their debut, Hello Doctor, all they can see are girls who like boys who date boys who like girls who date girls who date boys. “Double Decker Supreme” sounds like a ménage between Egyptian Lover, Jeff Stryker, and Peaches: “Two cocks, one pussy/All three pretty juicy.” On “Titties Bounce,” schoolgirls get naughty (“More! More!/kneeling on the church floor”) while Elvira synths heave and huff, and “Gutter Butter” might be the “Area Codes” of anal sex, pleading “up the slit, baby/from all sides, baby” as Elvira synths . . . well, you get the picture. The beat here, as on most of the songs, is basically a keyboard preset—which is a shame, because if Gravy Train realized what an aphrodisiac sound can be, they wouldn’t be catching hernias from all that partner swapping. But with their album checking in at under 25 minutes, at least they come quickly.
Toward the end of “Sugar Daddy,” one of the less thought-out songs on So Stylistic, the debut of multiracial all-girl Brooklyn crew FannyPack—Jessibel, Belinda, and Cat—one cringes at the idea of these young ladies befalling the same fate. After all, the quantized squeals and sighs here follow a couple of minutes of moaning for an older man with fat pockets—no good ending to that story. Listening to FannyPack is, in a sense, aural pedophilia—two of the three girls are in their teens—and while the project carries the sheen of Radio Disney, these girls use their duff way better than Hilary does. They don’t rap so much as speak, their unaffected vocal patterns conveying more sass than any contrived cadence could (cf. JJ Fad, L’Trimm). “Hey Mami” is propelled by low funk and Latin flourishes and was co-written by Jessibel based on the catcalls guys around her way holler. “Do It to It” and “Boom Boom” are flawless Miami bass mimicries, certain to tear the under-21 club up. Best of all is “System Boomin’,” a slice of technotronic hip-house heaven that’s sure to make WKTU quiver, and the next Jock Jams compilation to boot. But at the intersection of shirtless paysans at Webster Hall and drunken frat boys on the loge deck, there’s always a splash of sex. “I told this dude to speed it up,” Belinda raps in between countless exhortations to dig the groove and body move. “Pretend that I’m food and just eat it up.” Maybe the most subversive sex of all is sex that makes it past the censors.
Zeigenbock Kopf plays Luxx on Wednesday July 9.