London-based duo SEX CELLS, made up of Matt Kilda and Willow Vincent, released their new album That’s Life on March 13th via Pretty Ugly Records. The duo “formed in a rehearsal studio in Peckham in late 2015. Armed with just a drum kit and synthesiser, in an act of protest at their often less than comfortable circumstances living in London, the pair began to develop their own brand of minimal live dance music….That’s Life veers from berserk floor-filling beats to spacious soundscapes all infused in layers of psychedelic synths and thick reverberating noise.”
The album was produced by Dave M Allen, Christoph Skirl and SEX CELLS and recorded at Echo Zoo Studios in East Sussex. The album is full of infectious unexpected twists and turns made possible by imaginative drum and synth layers and outside of the box vocals.
We caught up with the duo and asked them to pick three albums that have influenced them and their music. Check out their album picks below.
That’s Life is available here: https://prettyuglyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/thats-life
SEX CELLS – Avenge Miriam EP
We wrestled with whether to include this as one of our three, but it’s true that this, our first recorded offering from 2016, played an undeniable part in our approach to recording That’s Life. Back in early 2016, Avenge Miriam EP was recorded live during one day in Hackney. We had no grand plans, it was simply a sound picture of that moment in our lives. That’s why, for us, it feels like it has this raw immediacy; it’s not trying to achieve anything more than temporarily let the listener into our own weird, and occasionally fucked-up, world. Naturally, we have evolved a lot since then, and, in the interim between making these two records, found ourselves concentrating on standalone singles. Writing and recording singles became a different process entirely, and although it did wonders for developing a recording relationship with producer Dave Allen, those singles bore a lot of pressure from us. After all, the single mentality is one of hooks, choruses, and, inevitably, its mission is to ‘please’ through radio attention and Spotify hits. We were sick of that being our primary concern, so it was decided that That’s Life would return to a more fluid, unrefined and art-led process. It was laid down and finished in a few days, mostly live – we let it just unfold, without any attention towards commercial prospecting, just fully concentrated on, and invested in, creating something that conveys exactly where we are right now. We’re glad we did, because, regardless of what anyone else makes of it, just like Avenge Miriam, That’s Life feels quite experiential, and there’s something quite special about capturing music that way.
Cabaret Voltaire – Red Mecca
Red Mecca by Cabaret Voltaire was quite an important reference point for us when we were writing the record. We like how tactile and textural it sounds – it’s not always discernible what instruments are making which sounds, rather, everything feels very amorphous and interconnected. It doesn’t feel live in the sense that we can imagine them in the studio recording it, but it definitely feels alive, and like everything is happening in a real, tangible environment. This was something we vitally wanted to capture with That’s Life too. Also, as two people from industrial areas (both North and South), this record really resonates with us because it encapsulates the romance you weave into your life when you live somewhere so bleak and estranged. Like a kitchen sink drama directed by Orson Welles. Richard H. Kirk once gave an interview where he talked about all the sounds he used to hear in the night as a child, of clanking steel and heavy industry, and how that influenced his later work as a musician. We too have always been interested in this idea of subconscious musical influence, and have wondered if some of those industrial sounds have been buried within us too, guiding us beyond cognitive intervention. Plus, the vocal effects on this record are so damn cool, we did have some of our own DIY attempts at recreating them, trying to figure out what tools they might have used. It just doesn’t really sound like any other record; it’s totally concentrated on holding you in an environment which, like an uncanny, half-remembered dream, colours the world around you.
Throbbing Gristle – D.O.A. the Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle
So, we mainly listen to contemporary music on a daily basis, but there is something very special about that period in the late seventies, when certain bands were operating without any commercial intentionality. Throbbing Gristle are probably the epitome of this movement, and have always been a huge influence on us due to their cult-like mentality, as well as the liminal aspect to their work as the lines between life and art are so uncompromisingly, and often disturbingly, blurred. We picked this record because it’s one we personally own and have worn out on the turntable, and, for us, it gathers together a lot of the core traits essential to the TG universe. Yes, it is for the large part an extremely antisocial listen, but, like life, occasionally these moments of pure and unsettling beauty break through the unforgiving transmission, on tracks such as ‘Weeping’ and ‘AB/7A’. It kinda takes you aback, and makes for this strange emotional arc that actually few records have managed to achieve so effortlessly. We love that, one moment you can be listening to glistening and hopeful arpeggios, only for everything to suddenly collapse with a track as skin-crawlingly eerie as ‘E-Coli’. It’s one of those records that actually makes you feel complicit with it, like a bystander at a murder scene. We can’t really think of anything else that manages to sustain such a genuinely perverse and creepy atmosphere in the world of music and art; it’s like TG have tuned in to, and transmitted through their instruments, all of the guilt, filth and seediness of the real world (or at least 1970s Britain).