Sex Swing by Sex SwingRelease date: November 25, 2016
Label: The Quietus Phonographic Corporation
The neobrutalism continues. Where bands like Gnod and Cattle set the pace earlier in the year, Sex Swing have grabbed the baton pushing the relay to a sprint as the year heads further into a downward spiral.
‘A Natural Satellite’ broadcasts waves of perniciousness and virulence into the album through the guise of a machine short-circuiting in slow motion. Guitars exploding rancour and bile like the pyroclastic flow of a volcano violently spurting out magma. A roar beneath the surfacing brooding into a demonic malevolent crux. Drums pulverised and brutalised in a foreboding maelstrom. This is how you open an open an album…with an extensive journey down the river styx into the underworld.
An imposing ritualistic beat marks the arrival of track two ‘Grace Jones’, snarling vocals drip like wax into the rising inferno as cymbals crash and doom permeates through every layer of instrumentation. A blistering crescendo rains down screaming guitar lines like sulphur against an agonised oboe crying discord into the frenzy. The swirling militant delivery is at times reminiscent of bands like Hey Colossus but of course it’s hard to know how much of this is owed to the influence of the band’s ties to the greatest band to ever come out Liverpool, Mugstar who are frequently cited as an influence by modern psyche bands including HC’s Rocket label mates Gnod and I’d imagine that influence is shared as much as the mutual excellence.
On the influence of Mugstar and modern psyche, ‘Karnak’ bursts out of the thread of the album like the alien chest scene, immediately standing out as a frantic yet melodic fire cracker on the album it instantly reminds me of startling tracks from Mugstar such as ‘Today is The Wrong Shape’ but at the same time its hazy fairground energy also reminds me of Hookworkms. The track feels like a spinning head lost on a merry-ground late at night.
The Murder of Maria Marten is some of the most brutalist sounds I’ve heard since Gnod released The Mirror earlier this year, the savagely colossal drumming dominates the track perhaps similar to The Body and The Haxan Cloak’s I Shall Die Here and it’s use of high pitch squeals is vaguely reminiscent as well. It’s interesting the other two records feel more like a victim of horror and yet, Sex Swings feel more like a disembodied spirit watching the events powerless to intervene, the distant vocals croon and bellow against the chaos like someone trapped behind a sheet of ice watching their world fall apart. Everything around the core vocal is pounded on a constant, relentless beat. Screams cascade in the background. The sense of doom is amplified through every fibre of the track. Yet, the vocals remain like a ghostly observer cursed to watch an eternity of suffering.
The post-punk twinged industrial underbelly of ‘Nighttime Worker’ gives it an instant hook. The razor sharp guitar lines crackle. Maligned vocals swagger groggily. The saxophone plays a determined flurry, defiantly clashing with the sickly undulations palpitating under the surface.
The drums are as excellent as they’ve been throughout, I’m having a hard time thinking of better drumming I’ve heard this year, closest I can come up with is in violet’s Oz Lozano nailing some incredibly tight drum parts on ‘Posiedon Weeps’ from their album Amber. I have to wonder which members come from which bands in Sex Swings and I guess who does what on what songs, though I’d guess that the drumming might be the Part Chimp element since their drumming is fucking unreal.
In a masterful stroke of arrangement and sequencing, ‘Murder Witness’ starts off leaning into the post-punk and industrial elements further and seemingly drawing more from Krautrock in the final track. What’s great about that is that it’s a formula that for me is producing the greatest music of our time in times of relevancy with most of the bands I’ve mentioned sharing the same influences and using similar instruments to create incredibly accurate far-out forebodings and violent, decadent calls to arms. The track finds its footing in mechanical rhythms and electronic pulsations whilst painting its foreground with somber oboe yelps and disembodied ritualistic vocals; the result is almost seven minutes of acidic doom soaked in kerosine, burning magnificently.
Sex Swing don’t fuck around, this is an assured debut from a group of well-seasoned musical veterans who clearly have a stranglehold on this vital branch of music.