Cex: Actual Fucking
Coming in with a title unprintable in The New York Times and a cover unrackable in Wal-Mart, the latest CD from way-erstwhile CP contributor Rjyan Kidwell’s thought-to-be-mothballed-but-apparently-not Cex moniker may come off initially as a gag. The booklet bursts with banally bawdy tales snipped from issues of Penthouse Forum. Or maybe one of its less reputable variants: "And it was great sex. The table provided ideal leverage and happened to be at an ideal height," and so on. If it turns out that Kidwell actually wrote all 13 pages of smut himself, then a round of applause is in order.
The music is no joke. Don’t go looking for links back to Kidwell’s days as rapper or laptopper or whatever-the-fuck on Actual Fucking. He’s joined by his Sand Cats (and otherwise) partner Roby Newton, as well as the members of Krautrock revivalists Nice Nice. And in keeping with the neo-Kraut vibe, Actual Fucking likes nothing more than taking a good groove and putting it through the psychedelic wringer. On "Baltimore," a complex rhythm slowly builds from cycling mallets, a rusty cowbell, and some shakers, only to end up strafed by Death Star laser fire.
There’s a whiff of gothic musk to this Fucking--an aftertaste of Marilyn Manson’s hectoring, the kohl-ringed beats of Depeche Mode, the snarling come-hither taunts of Lydia Lunch. Newton’s voice has a certain laconic menace, and it contrasts nicely with Kidwell’s strident delivery. But on "Ybor City," voice and beat fall away as a simple acoustic guitar emerges from the crackling static of an answering-machine message. It conjures a different kind of psychedelia from the rest of the album’s fizzing electronic overload and hall-of-mirrors disorientation. It certainly conjures a different kind of fucking. Splendor in the grass? Who knew?