Check this out friends: Muscle Up is a collection of Patrick Cowley’s soundtracks to gay porn films. The tracks, crafted out of synths and hand-built equipment, are at once sleazy and remarkably experimental, sliding slickly between ambience and funk. Double LP packaged with sexy posters on Dark Entries / Honey Soundsystem.
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Synth expert Patrick Cowley spent a lot of time in the worlds of both disco and experimental, toying with electronics to make tunes you could dance to and ones that sounded like pure beams of light. The music that features on ‘Muscle Up’ were curated from the archives of Fox Studios, a gay porn production company that worked with Cowley -- though without context you might not know, and this grab bag shows off Cowley’s disparate musical disciplines. The record opens up on a pretty minimalist tune that loops a sluggish drumbeat against a mixture of piano chords and sci-fi synth. The record then extends into a super-long cut called “The Jungle Dream”, which is at times quieter than any drone you’ve ever listened to, interpolated with naturalistic bird chirps and operatic vocals.
Beats start to shuffle into place on “Deep Inside You” and “Somebody to Love Tonight”, the first track a lethargic and twilit piece that moves with more rhythmic integrity; the latter is groove-gold with a shuffling, dubbed beat and a swirl of synths that sounds all kinds of glorious. The further you get into the record the more propulsive and slick a listen it gets, with funky guitar and an incredible synth melody adorning “Pigfoot” and “Don’t Ask” earning its stripes as a sensual slow jam. Cowley, though, is a hard dude to figure out, and “Uhura” interrupts proceedings for a kosmische-tinged noise piece that swirls, ascends and punctures before perpetuating rhythm and hints of a near-EDM finale.
The places this dude could go to are impressive: he’s a polymath, and this record shows his work both in commissioned and autonomous form.
8/10 Jack Customer review, 19th December 2015
I've been letting Muscle Up sink in and School Daze was much better, but this is definitely worth owning. Biggest highlight is "Somebody to Love Tonight." The overall soundtrack is beautiful and evokes those sweaty sexually charges of 1970's San Francisco. Included in the vinyl is a collector's newspaper insert and an essay (apparently not exactly well written) about how Muscle Up came to be. I am a big fan of Patrick Cowley and this was a release that I anxiously awaited. Go for it, guys. It's Christmas.
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