Originally released on The Audacious Art Experiment we are delighted to issue a long-awaited vinyl edition of this posthumous album by Manchester dub/noise/improv collective A Middle Sex. Exploratory electronic repeato music that harks back to the golden age experiments of This Heat and Throbbing Gristle. Dark but essential.
9/10 Ant Staff review, 02 October 2017
A little history. The sadly defunct A Middle Sex - Karl Sveinsson and Matthew Ashworth with Phil Sykes on drums originally replaced by Edwin Stevens - first came to our attention way back in 2009 on their split LP with Temperatures on the Carnivals label. They were then responsible for releasing the first Hype Williams album. Another split LP with the mighty GNOD on Blackest Rainbow followed, and in 2015 The Audacious Art Experiment released their ‘Soul Sways West’ cassette in a measly edition of 30 copies.
That tape caught the attention of the Public House Recordings landlord - a hopeless, degenerate vinyl junkie who has only gone and vinylized it for you. This first, and one-time-only, vinyl edition has been pressed in a run of just 250 copies. So you’d better drink up, before he calls last orders.
‘Not For You’ boots the record off with spiritual-esque, f/x-laden chanting. But just as things start to become transcendent, the title cut boings in with its big, springing loop. The otherworldly vocals re-emerge but any use of conventional language is aborted, with a “voice as instrument” approach that adds to the swirling psychedelic texture - a technique employed throughout the album. By the time we reach ‘Cry Waves’ a hypnotic tribal percussion is underpinning the vocals so that they sound trapped, like they're trying to break out of another dimension.
‘On Condition’ is something akin to being swept up in solar winds, while the bombastic Krautrock of M.R.S.A. lurches into a repetitive drum groove with nebulous synth and more f/x gliding past. ‘Wake Late’ amps up the intensity, with sizzling noise and the ever-present drums creating a dense, hallucinatory wall of sound. Vicious bass propels the gnarly ‘Platform 14’ along - a disorientating head pummeler. The tranquil opening minutes of the epic thirteen-minute ‘Olympus Mons’ offer some respite, building with eerie minimal guitar, before it too locks into a galloping groove. The ecstatic ‘Second to Last Jam’ closes with drums that are so utterly tight and locked they sound more machine than man. The beats appear to be hovering, supported by a luminous drone that carries them to celestial heights.
All in all, 'Soul Sways West' reminds us of everything from the avant post-punk of This Heat and the kaleidoscopic psychedelia of Astral Social Club through to Oren Ambarchi’s Krautrock detours. All that yummy stuff.
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- Soul Sways West by A Middle Sex
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