, January 9th, 2017 14:32
Ok, some Semiotics 101 for you. Take a look at this cover for the self-titled debut album from London based doomlords, Sex Swing. Take an opportunity to study it for a minute or so. Notice how the various components interact with each other; the pale sickly greenish-yellow matter that oozes over the what appears to be some kind of soft spongy pink flesh that bulges out onto a sterile paper sheet. The insertion of some kind of metallic tool or instrument that presses and sinks into the pallid gunk. There is some form of a shiny layer that covers everything in a slimy liquid.
Now… what do you see when you see this image? Is this a picture of a ruptured abscess with pus escaping the body? Or is it some kind of medical procedure on the mouth, the sort you often see on YouTube? Or, maybe it’s just a messy ham and cheese toasted sandwich that has just exploded? Whatever you see, with nothing having moved to rival it by the end of 2016, Sex Swing managed to release one of the most graphic, and filthy, yet cleverly inferred, pieces of album art last year. It covers everything with a sickly, fetishtic quality; it repulses you, ye you feel compelled to stick your finger in it.
It is this lurching sickness that pervades the music of Sex Swing. Play the opening track, ‘A Natural Satellite’ and revel in how it degrades, it disgusts and excites you across its 12-minute plus length: it doesn’t just drone, it churns as the sounds tilts from side to side, as the grinding bass, blaring sax, and ominous electronics cover everything in a stinging foam. ‘Grace Jones’ is a monotonous psychotic dirge of wafting nastiness, a bad trip that drops you in that sweet spot between savage psych freakouts and dank doom metal, where the jagged sax and electronics wind in tandem and slash at your brain. On the closing track ‘The Murder of Maria Marten’, a song that incorporates the lyrics to the folk tune sung by Shirley Collins and The Albion Band, Sex Swing swap the latter’s low slung groove version for a hyperbolic murder ballad, a tale of death, dashed dreams and violence as Dan Chandler’s vocals are lent a distinctly sordid tang, with the taste of fresh blood in his mouth.
With tracks such as ‘Murder Witness’ and ‘Night Time Worker’, each with their own narcotic, nocturnal biorhythms accentuate Sex Swing’s noir landscape; a night time economy of illegal mini cabs, fast food joints, and sordid night clubs and drinking holes, all manned by an army of faceless humans with torrid histories, plying their grim trades at the edges of society. Meanwhile predators of all kinds, both animal and human, stalk the night, seeking their hapless prey as they act out their own heart of darkness.
Sex Swing, in many ways, occupies an ugly world that shares the same dark core as the gruelling soundtrack that was provided by Gallon Drunk’s James Johnston and Terry Edwards to Derek Raymond’s reading from his jet black crime novel I was Dora Suarez. But while Johnston and Edwards use horror soundtrack atmospherics to provide a sense of oppressive disquiet, Sex Swing is all about the abhorrence of a sound of extreme force and intensity that stomps on your skull with way more glee than is necessary. You come through it all not with a standard sense of enjoyment; playing it loud, you really feel like you’ve been through the wringer. But it’s the way that Sex Swing blend textures of psych, krautrock, doom, and goth that rewards those who are prepared to get their ears mangled.