So you're having sex. Usually it's sudden and furtive, the heat of the moment incinerating your civility as you chase that shining golden moment lying in puddles down the gutter.
But when you have a little more time to plan your coital rendezvous – what music should you listen to while you're having sex?
The Durutti Column — The Guitar and Other Machines (Factory, 1987)
LISTEN: “Bordeaux Sequence“
An album of some of the most tender and affectionate guitar music ever recorded, courtesy of Mancunian guitar sorcerer Vini Reilly and drummer Bruce Mitchell.
Highlights include “What It Is To Me (Woman)” and “U.S.P.” — although admittedly the word “highlights” doesn't nearly do it justice. It's like this: you hear this music when you're inside each other and you know — you just deeply fucking know — each other.
This is also the record by which you find precisely at what level the volume for your fuck music should be set: too loud and it's intrusive; if it's too quiet you won't be able to hear all those beautiful guitar arpeggios that unspool like gossamer sapphire thread while Reilly sings in that offhanded and breathily puzzling way of his.
What's he singing about? No clue. I was always too busy doing other things to find out.
Merzbow — Music for Bondage Performance (Extreme, 1991)
A sonic neutron bomb delivered straight to the heart of Western psychosexual reality, this record by Japanese noise maestro Masami Akita appeared at a time during which horrible garbage like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson plagued sex and BDSM clubs.
How are you supposed to create your own sexual narrative when someone else is screaming it in your ear in 4/4 time with those “shouted-at-by-a-cop” vocals? Bondage and dominance/submission (d/s) should be an intimate and immersive experience.
The noise that Merzbow weaves together is something that reflects that dynamic, consuming and liberating without being annihilating. It is subspace put to music — Domspace as well, really — and it is as close to the intensity of the moment of climax as anything rock and/or roll claimed to have produced in all its writhing decades of third-rate subversion.
Sleep Chamber — Symphony Sexualis (Fünfundvierzig, 1993)
LISTEN: “Succubi Circle“
Essentially 48 minutes' worth of processed violin and other mundane noises, this is, in the words of Sleep Chamber founder John Zewizz, “A soundtrack piece made exclusively to accompany the enjoyment of leather-sex, bondage or S&M.”
At points terrifying and terrific, the sounds are so completely mesmerizing that they present one of the greatest soundtracks to the epic journey that sex is optimally meant to be.
20 years later and it's lost none of its potency. It's like riding a train on a long continental voyage — and we all know what going through a train tunnel means…*
*(It means the train is on schedule).
Coil — The Angelic Conversation (Threshold House, 1994)
A soundtrack to the 1985 film of the same name by gardener and director Derek Jarman (who would've turned 70 this year), this is Coil playing deep dark ambient music over which actress Judi Dench reads love sonnets by William Shakespeare.
Poems like “Being your slave, what should I do but tend / Upon the hours and times of your desire?” and “Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said / Thy edge should blunter be than appetite” soar alongside the sound of bees in flight and looming bells echoing off into eternity.
The thought of James Bond's boss M hanging out with ex-Throbbing Gristle members is inviting enough — that she delivers these timeless jewels of tenderest romance with the most compelling voice outside of Jeremy Irons' is quietly and diligently spectacular.
Marcel Marceao — The Best Of Marcel Marceao (MGM, 1970)
LISTEN: “The End“
This novelty record released by Michael Viner — the late cultural polymath and Angeleno who founded Incredible Bongo Band (“Apache” and “Let There Be Drums”) and later became a major player in the audiobook industry (go figure) — sets the bar high for conceptual music presented to the public at-large.
It's 19 minutes of silence on one side — presumably recorded during one of Marceao's mime actions — followed by one minute of applause. Turn the record over and it's the same thing.
Nineteen minutes is a fairly decent amount of time to have sex in the first place. Just imagine that suddenly, after some insanely great orgasm, you instantly have an audience.
And who couldn't use a little applause during sex? It'd be just like you planned it that way.
BONUS RECORD: THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SEX