This double CD is "a musical tribute to pornography" as interpreted by the U.K.-based Pussyfoot label's stable of producers/DJs/remixers. American translation: "Let's shoot a load of '70s skinflick-soundtrack clichés (watery electric piano, vaguely sitar-ical guitar F/X, heavy breathing, etc.) over some contemporary drum programming, roll over and have a cigarette."
Actually, each of these 18 artists takes an individual approach to this whole tongue-and-groove thang, ranging from the ambient-lounge of Love TKO's ultrasuede "Love Thong" to the aggro-electronix of Howie B.'s thorny "Only If It Hurts." Double-edged Parental Advisory Warning: Although most of the S-E-X here is really just good ol'-fashioned "sin-uendo" -- for example, Chari Chari's "Favourite Final Geisha Show" is an inspired deconstruction of a familiar strip-joint anthem -- you could count the number of the tracks that feature actual XXX-rated dialogue on the fingers of your other hand.
As far as the latter goes, while Tiff McGinnis with Three Wheels Out splatters a blackly humorous monologue over a minimalist funk pattern on "Live From the Clermont Lounge," Naked Funk sets a series of loops furiously chasing each other backward, forward, up and down, before it all goes a bit sticky when the track trails off into a too-long recording of the artist's own phone-sex call (!). The rest is all fairly solid stuff, with Deadly Avenger's shape-shifting "In Pursuit of the Pimp Mobile," Hyper Crad's chicken-pickin'-guitar-driven "3 (Back Door Mix)" and Inevidence's cop-show funk workout on "Cum Dancing" providing the stiffest musical competition.
Seven of the CD's tracks can also be heard as the background music to the 32-minute home-video version of Suck It and See that's set for early fall release. Written and directed by Jacob Pander -- whose credits include the award-winning experimental short The Operation -- the video can be seen as an homage to such glossy '70s porn classics as Emmanuelle and the collected works of Radley Metzger. All the sex, all the clichés, all the wink-wink, nudge-nudge humor. Though each track could be excerpted as a single video, the seven set pieces flow together to tell a complete, nearly dialogue-free story, and the music underscores the onscreen action perfectly. Meanwhile, the DVD version of Suck It and See -- also set for early fall release -- contains everything that's on the home video, plus a fetish-photo gallery, behind-the-scenes photos, a scene-by-scene breakdown, multiple Web links and more. Slurp.
THE DONNAS Get Skintight (Lookout!)
Sexy and snarling, the post-high-school incarnation of the Donnas passed A.P. Ditching, Cheeba Studies and Slacking Off 2 with flying colors, graduating with honors. They were immediately courted by Lookout! Records rather than Ivy League colleges, which they might have destroyed. Their impressive thesis, American Teenage Rock 'n' Roll Machine, earned them a lot of fans, among them many creepy guys with cameras. Now their early I-like-boys phase is well behind them, though those records are masterpieces in their own right. Not that the new songs aren't also about boys, but there's more attitude in singer Donna A's voice and more crunch in Donna R's guitar.
On their latest would-be smash, Get Skintight, the Donnas have written some of their best songs yet, and their primary aspirations -- partying all weekend long and stirring up trouble -- remain unchanged. There are a couple of lovely, dejected, Ramones-style ballads about getting dissed by guys, and they ring true, complete with awkward, diarylike lyrics. But most of the songs are of the hanging-your-head-out-the-car-window-and-screaming sort, like "Get You Alone," a backseat-type number about making some boy happy; "Hot Boxin'," the Donnas' millionth ode to getting stoned; and the band's rip-roaring cover of Motley Crue's "Too Fast for Love," where Donna R nails every one of Mick Mars' seedy riffs. Though every number on Get Skintight will have you doing doughnuts on your neighbor's lawn, "Zero," a song about some poor schmuck the Donnas don't like, is among the cleverest, with lyrics like "You're a zero on my rockometer/If you wanna get hot, go turn on a heater."
No doubt the Donnas are blowing off boys left and right nowadays as they make their slow but inevitable ascent to rock stardom. Deserving of the palace and all its riches, these girls are silly, naughty and magnificent. (Adam Bregman)
ORBITAL The Middle of Nowhere (FFRR/London)
Critical rhetoric dictates that every year in electronica is year zero, that it really begins whenever a young new DJ headlines the Glastonbury Festival, or when wide-eyed U.S. labels start waving their checkbooks around. Hence there's no history. But longevity is not such a questionable thing among the hierarchy of dance acts that can trace their roots back to Brian Eno and Kraftwerk just as easily as Cream tipped their hats to Robert Johnson. More than once, Orbital's 30-ish Hartnoll brothers have proved themselves at Glastonbury and other rave-culture gatherings that usually pass the 50,000 count. Ten years and five albums down the road, the duo's The Middle of Nowhere puts Phil and Paul exactly where they want to be.